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Hearing Loss in the Workplace
June is Employee Wellbeing Month, which highlights the workplace’s role in creating healthy employees. An important part to maintaining wellbeing is maintaining good hearing health. Let’s first check your knowledge on hearing loss by looking at some facts.
Hearing Loss Facts
- Approximately 48 million Americans report some degree of hearing loss.
- Around 60% of people with hearing loss are either in the workplace or an educational setting.
- Approximately 22 million Americans are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work, which makes hearing loss the most common work-related injury.
- People with untreated hearing loss lose on average $12,000 and up to $20,000 in annual income depending on their degree of hearing loss.
Did any of those hearing loss facts surprise you? Addressing hearing loss and maintaining hearing health are important for overall wellness and that includes wellness in your work environment. Hearing is critical in work environments for effective communication and to assure safety. Research shows that people with untreated hearing loss can suffer losses in annual income, may make more mistakes at work, experience higher unemployment rates, and experience poorer quality of life. Hearing loss is linked to an increased risk of anxiety, depression, social isolation, and cognitive decline, which may all impact a person’s work performance.
The vast majority of people with hearing loss can benefit from the use of hearing aids. Hearing aids help people to stay engaged in life and that includes at work. Thankfully, the use of hearing aids can reduce the risk of income loss dramatically, by 90-100% for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65-77 % for those whose hearing loss is moderate to severe.
Be An Advocate
Hearing loss is an protected disability by the Americans with Disabilities Act, so consider being upfront and honest about your hearing loss with your employer and your colleagues. Advocate for your hearing needs at work, including the best listening environment for you to work and communicate with others such as a separate office or a particular area away from the break room or ventilation system. Make sure your employers and colleagues know good communication strategies to use with people who have hearing loss.
- Make sure your face is visible to the listener. Mouth visual cues and facial expression improve speech understanding.
- Speak clearly, a little slower, and do not shout.
- Keep phone calls shorter and confirm important information at the end.
- Confirm important tasks via email or another method in writing.
- Reduce extra background noise or move away from extra background noise for important conversations.
The audiologists at Mile High Hearing are advocates for people taking an active role in their hearing healthcare. We also like to be a reference for all things hearing related. Check out these resources for people with hearing loss in the workplace.
Employee Wellbeing Month https://www.employeewellbeingmonth.com/
Hearing Loss Association of America https://www.hearingloss.org/content/employment
Job Accommodation Network https://askjan.org/
Rocky Mountain ADA Center https://www.rockymountainada.org/