If you have ever worked on a construction site in Arizona, you can understand how loud it may get. Because of this, it may not be surprising that some construction workers may suffer from hearing loss as they reach advanced ages. Because of this, new recommendations have been made regarding hearing protections for construction workers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that workers avoid exposure to noise levels of 90 weighted decibels and above over an eight hour work period. However, studies by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the U.S. Department of Energy found that the current standard put workers at increased risk of hearing loss.
Because of this, the NIOSH recommends that the noise exposure standard be lowered to 85 weighted decibels. Essentially, the lower standard would offer construction workers the same protections afforded to workers in other industries; especially factory workers. While you may not expect it, rules on noise exposure are quite different between factory workers and construction workers. Perhaps because construction workers tend to work outside, where sound may dissipate easier.
Indeed, a number of states incorporate lower exposure rules that can protect workers, or they require certain workers to wear protective gear such as headsets or earplugs when performing particular duties. Nevertheless, a change in federal rules may be slow to come by.
In the meantime, an employer’s duty to provide a safe working environment should not be lost in this. But for those workers who have been injured and have lost hearing due to constant exposure, a conversation with an experienced workers compensation attorney could be worthwhile.