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Workplace injuries: Research reveals new hearing-loss hazards

Different hazards pose different types of health risks to employees in all industries across Oklahoma. Not all workplace injuries are noticeable, and while open wounds and fractured bones happen in all workplaces, injuries such as hearing loss are also prevalent but often disregarded. However, cuts and broken bones can heal while hearing loss is permanent, and for this reason, safety agencies advise more hearing conservation.

Although some industries are known to produce excessive noise that threatens employees, researchers recently reported that AFFH industries pose significant hearing-loss hazards. This industry sector comprises of agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting within which the hearing tests of 17,300 employees were analyzed. Researchers say a significant percentage of those had suffered noise-related hearing loss.

The sub-categories that proved to pose the highest risk to workers included gathering products in a forest, forest nurseries, fishing and timber tract operations. Of the four industries included in the AFFH sector, employees in logging and aquaculture -- or fish farming -- were found to be particularly at risk of hearing damage. An epidemiologist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says the right technology and strategies can prevent all occupational hearing loss.

Hearing loss happens over time, and many workers only realize the harm they suffered long after leaving the jobs that caused the damage. Although the Oklahoma workers' compensation insurance program covers hearing loss along with other workplace injuries, proving it to be work-related may be challenging -- especially for an employee who no longer works for the company. This is where the skills of an experienced workers' compensation attorney are needed to assist with the pursuit of benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages.

Source:, "Researchers find elevated risk of hearing loss in certain agriculture, forestry and fishing subsectors", March 20, 2018

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