Hearing Loss in the Workplace

Hearing Loss in the Workplace
Matthew Favinger, M.S., F-AAA

Latest posts by Matthew Favinger, M.S., F-AAA (see all)

While there are numerous studies and breakdowns of statistics for hearing loss in America, studies of hearing loss in the workplace are lacking. We know that 37.5 million Americans, age 18 and older, have some hearing loss either in one or both ears, so it makes sense that there are fairly significant numbers of individuals, many without hearing aids, that are in the workforce.

According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, about 28.8 million adults in the United States could benefit from wearing hearing aids. Of those 28.8 million, between the ages of 20 and 69, fewer than 16% have used hearing aids.

The professional team at Hearing Aid Associates wants you to hear all that life has to offer. Untreated hearing loss affects your physical and mental health and, it can be dangerous depending on your workplace. Schedule a hearing evaluation today and start taking better care of your hearing health.

Hearing Health Issues

While many employ health plans promote general well being as well as eye and dental health, very few encourage hearing health. Dealing with hearing loss in the workplace can be extraordinarily stressful, but many chose to ignore thinking they can just adjust or it will somehow work itself out. But “letting hearing loss go” will only mean your hearing further deteriorates.

For managers, an employee that has an unexplained drop in productivity, seems to have lost confidence and appears depressed could be an indication that he or she is suffering from hearing loss. Employees are often fearful of self-reporting to a manager that they have hearing loss because they fear it might have an impact on their career advancement.  Others feel it may stigmatize them and they are embarrassed. In some cases, the hearing loss may have come on suddenly and they just are unsure of what to do. Addressing hearing healthcare in a general health policy at workplace would be really helpful, it gives employees a place to start if they need to talk about hearing loss.

Signs to Watch For

Sometimes you may get a hint there is an issue at the initial interview. Is your employee struggling to hear and process a question? Other things to look for:

  • People who seem to be continually asking “what” or “pardon?”
  • Tasks done incorrectly by a normally reliable employee because they didn’t hear the directions correctly.
  • Individuals who need large portions of a conversation repeated several times.
  • Complaining that everyone is talking too softly.
  • Failing to hear the telephone or someone calling out to them.
  • Skipping social events that are at venues with a lot of background noise.
  • Turning up the sound on their computer so loud others complain.
  • Visibly straining to hear what is being said.

Be a Pro-Active Manager

Discuss hearing health care as part of general workplace wellness discussions. Ask about setting up a hearing health program at work that includes encouragement of hearing tests. Actively promote the program through posters, newsletters, non-judgmental e-mails and at company functions.

At meetings, conferences and conventions your company may sponsor or hold, make microphone use mandatory. Although many speakers decline the use of amplification and assure you that everyone will be able to hear them, that virtually guarantees that anyone with hearing difficulties will not.

Educate yourself as an employer. For example, learn about various ways to make your workplace more hearing friendly. Learn about assistive listening devices that you should routinely be using at large gatherings.

Create a better environment for those in your workplace who have hearing devices. While hearing aids are marvels of technology that have come a long way, they still are not perfect. If an employee has hearing issues, try and seat them away from high traffic areas and away from what many consider routine noisemakers such as vending and coffee machines and printers.

Get That Hearing Test!

If you think you may be experiencing hearing loss and you are having problems at your workplace, get a hearing evaluation at Hearing Aid Associates. There are hearing aid models to fit all lifestyles and budgets. They are discreet and you will be professionally fitted and we’ll make sure through follow-up that they are doing for you what you want them to do and you are perfectly comfortable with them.