Hearing in the Workplace

A myriad of potential hazards falls under the category of workplace safety — including hearing loss.
The fact is that untreated hearing loss is now a management issue. With hearing loss becoming more common in younger people — at the same time that the retirement age is creeping up — hearing issues are just more likely to happen in the workplace today and moving forward.

The majority of the 40 million Americans with hearing issues are actually still in the workforce. It is estimated that more than 10 percent of the full-time workforce has a diagnosed hearing issue.

Since most jobs depend on good communication between workers and, in retail, with customers — it is inherent that the listening skills of workers be prioritized. And it’s hard to be a good listener with untreated hearing loss.

This is not only a management issue but also one for workers. A Better Hearing Institute (BHI) survey found that people with untreated hearing loss were likely to see a decrease in their income. In addition, people with significant untreated hearing issues were unemployed at double the rate of that of their fellow job seekers.

Efforts by employers to have their employees screened for hearing problems — as part of basic workplace health programs — are an obvious first step. BHI found that the use of hearing aids (which 8 out of 10 users report better their lives) found that income loss for those with mild hearing loss was reduced 90 to 100 percent after getting hearing aids. For those with severe to moderate hearing loss, income decline was reduced 65 to 77 percent.

As older workers become more and more a part of the employment landscape, hearing loss and corrective measures will have to become a greater emphasis for both employers and employees.

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