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The sound and fury of workplace noise

It began with a sensation of pressure inside his ears after his workdays ended and it slowly evolved into a sensitivity to sound. The construction worker in his early 50s began to worry about the slight hearing loss and complications, so he began wearing ear protection.

But the symptoms changed. He began experiencing "piercing jabbing pain in his inner ear," according to a recent article. He was forced to quit working because the pain caused by noise had become unbearable.

The construction worker is not alone in dealing with work-related loss of hearing. According to Centers for Disease Control, hearing loss is the leading job-related injury in America. Each year, about 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous levels of noise in their workplaces.

The Department of Labor notes that employees receive approximately $242 million in workers' compensation benefits annually because of occupational hearing losses. The federal agency is trying to lessen the problem with a program called "Hear and Now," a call for innovative technology and concepts to reduce noise levels and protect workers.

Some experts contend that Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations on workplace sound levels are archaic and need updating. They also urge employers to do more to raise the level of employee awareness of the dangers of exposure to noise.

A Stanford professor who studies workplace hazards notes that workers in high-noise areas and jobs often regularly wear ear protection. But far too often, he says, people who labor in areas with moderate or lower noise levels forgo protection, only to have their hearing damaged by long-term exposure.

If you have experienced work-related hearing loss, it can sometimes be difficult to get an Oklahoma workers' compensation claim approved. A Tulsa attorney experienced in fighting for worker rights and deserved benefits can help.

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