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What's America's leading workplace injury?

The most common work injury in the country can have devastating effects - but it's probably not what you think.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hearing loss is the most common workplace injury in America. Every year, about 22 million employees are exposed to hazardous noise levels on the job.

Debilitating effects of work-related hearing loss

Workers in construction, mining, extraction and manufacturing industries are some of the most vulnerable to hearing loss and related injuries. In any job that involves prolonged exposure to loud noise, workers could be affected by serious and long-lasting injuries.

The effects of occupational noise exposure may include slight hearing loss, complete deafness, dizziness, pain in the ear or head, and sensitivity to noise. There may also be psychological and social implications. Employees with hearing loss and other ear injuries may feel isolated from others, or develop psychological conditions like depression or anxiety. Whether physical or psychological, the effects of hearing loss can be so serious that they make it impossible for an employee to continue working.

What can I do to prevent hearing loss at work?

If you work in a high-risk industry or are regularly exposed to noise on the job, proper ear protection is essential. Wear protective gear even if you are only being exposed to moderate noise, as it can have a cumulative effect on your hearing.

Your employer should also be taking steps to protect you by providing safety training, proper equipment and limiting your exposure to noise whenever possible. Consider talking to your supervisor, HR representative or labor union if you have concerns about your working conditions.

Workers who experience hearing loss as a result of their work conditions may be eligible for workers' compensation to recoup expenses like lost wages and medical bills. If you or someone you know has been injured at work, it's always a good idea to contact a lawyer and learn more about your options.

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