Are Employers Responsible for Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss from constant noise is one of the most common health complaints among factory workers. For that reason, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has several standards to help management preserve their workers’ hearing.
Is My Boss Responsible for Safety Equipment?
Employers are responsible for monitoring the noise levels at their facility on a regular basis. If workers are regularly exposed to noise levels above 85 decibels (dB) for eight hours or more, management is required to provide hearing protection.
In addition to hearing protection, management must also provide annual audiograms free of charge to employees who are subjected to high noise levels. Audiograms monitor a workers’ hearing over time, allowing management to recognize even mild deterioration and act accordingly.
Workers could lose their hearing permanently if employers fail to provide the necessary protections. A recent inspection led to thousands of dollars in fines for an Illinois foundry company after OSHA found it in violation of hearing conservation standards.
KVK Foundry Inc. specializes in aluminum sand casting. The company failed to obtain yearly audiograms for any of its employees despite OSHA’s regulations. According to reports, the foundry had already been cited for similar violations in December 2012.
During the previous inspection, the Millington-based company was also cited for failing to uphold OSHA’s respiratory protection standards. The company was cited for similar violations this time after it failed to provide medical evaluations and annual fit testing for employees using respirators.
Audiograms and respiratory fit tests can help companies identify health issues while they are still treatable. If companies do not take the time to monitor their employees diligently, health problems could become permanent.
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