There is not only a correlation between hearing loss and working in construction, but a direct cause and effect. Hearing loss is often caused by lengthy exposure to loud noises that damage the ears, and construction sites routinely produce noises well above safe levels. Working at such sites without ear protection has a very high chance of giving a worker permanent hearing loss.
As many as 2 in 3 construction workers will experience hearing loss by the age of 50, compared to only about 10% of the population that works without exposure to dangerous noises.
How Is Sound Measured?
The volume of a sound is measured in a unit called decibels, expressed as dB. As volume levels increase, the measurement in decibels can be a bit misleading, since it is not as simple as temperature measurements. An increase of 10 levels in decibels is actually 10 times louder or more powerful than the previous amount. For example, a normal conversation is usually held at about 60 dB, while the sound of a vacuum cleaner or hair dryer is 70 dB.
What Is a Dangerous Volume for Sound?
Most experts consider sound levels above about 85 or 90 dB to be a dangerous level, especially for long-term exposure such as an 8-hour workday. A jackhammer or power saw used at a construction site is typically 110 dB. By comparison, a train is 100 dB in volume, which means the use of a jackhammer without ear protection is 10 times more intense than being near a train locomotive.
Construction Work and Noise
Construction workers have among the highest numbers of incidences of hearing loss by profession by the age of 50, equal only to miners. About 2 in 3 construction workers are expected to experience hearing loss by 50. This hearing loss is permanent and cannot be reversed, only assisted through the use of a hearing aid. Employers must provide construction workers with proper safety equipment, including ear protection, in order to ensure a healthy and safe workplace for their employees. Failure to do so may constitute a serious act of negligence on the part of the employer, especially as health and safety guidelines have made the dangers of loud noise quite clear.
If you or someone you know has suffered a workplace injury, you may deserve compensation. Call our NY construction injury lawyers today at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353 to discuss your case and explore your options.