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Noise on the job may damage more than your hearing

With the rise in awareness of many work-related illnesses, your California employer may be among those who frequently sponsor regular health screenings. Health care professionals may come to your place of employment and offer testing for your overall health, vision, hearing and other types of examinations.

If you work in an industry where the levels of noise are considerably high, you may not be surprised if these health screenings reveal that you may have a significant loss of hearing. However, what you might not expect to learn is that your blood pressure is dangerously high. This is what researchers have discovered while analyzing data collected by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Are you at risk?

About 25 percent of all workers in the U.S. deal with hazardous levels of noise on the job. This may include explosive sounds, heavy vibrations or prolonged noise at low or high decibels. NIOSH noted that the data showed a pattern across industries where levels of noise are consistently high, such as:

  • Mining
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing

If you work in any of these jobs or in an industry with similar risk of noise exposure, you may be in more danger of having higher than normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels. While only about 12 percent of those screened suffered any significant hearing loss, 24 percent had blood pressure levels above the safe zone, and 28 percent had dangerous cholesterol levels.

Prevention is key

NIOSH, a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, believes that this startling find is just the impetus they need to boost their campaign to reduce the levels of noise in work environments. Conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol place you at risk for stroke, heart disease and other life-threatening ailments. To link these issues to a preventable factor like noise levels may be a step in the right direction.

It is important to wear protective equipment to safeguard your hearing from permanent damage from noise exposure. Additionally, if it is possible to avoid the noise in your workplace, the CDC recommends you do so. Your employer may also be able to minimize the dangerous levels by investing in updated, low noise machinery or by providing a barrier between you and the noise hazard. As always, you have the right to seek medical treatment through workers' compensation insurance provided by your employer with the assistance of a legal professional.

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