Loss of Hearing Injuries
When you think about hearing loss, what do you picture? Probably something like the side effect of growing old, or maybe the result of years of listening to music too loudly.
Hearing loss, however, is particularly common in the maritime industry due to a combination of factors. The equipment used in a lot of maritime work lends itself to a greater risk of hearing loss if the proper safety equipment isn’t provided, and improper maintenance on said equipment can actually increase this risk as the machines may be running even louder than usual.
The ever-present risk of head injury can increase this risk as well. Loss of hearing, whether partial or complete, is an all-too common side effect of head traumas, and in an environment as dangerous as maritime work can be, these two traumas can often go hand in hand.
When it comes to maritime work, these injuries and physical damages are covered under the Jones Act. In particular, the Jones Act calls out Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) as a common risk posed by maritime work thanks to the types of machinery and equipment involved. Whether it comes from a lack of safety gear, improper maintenance, or even improper usage of said equipment, hearing loss is recognized as a common risk of working on the water.
Causes of Hearing Loss in Maritime Work
The risk of hearing loss in maritime work is ever-present, no matter the nature of your work, or where it’s performed. A few of the most common sources of hearing damage include:
- Lack of proper hearing protection – workplace safety guidelines typically place the need for hearing protection at 85 decibels or more (over a time-weighted 8-hour period)
- Lack of training on how to properly use hearing protection – storage, wearing, maintenance/cleaning, etc
- Explosions on deck due to improperly stored fuels, malfunctioning equipment, and other risks – these can also pose a high risk of burn injuries
- Noise generated by engines, generators, or even the entire floor of an oil rig
- Head traumas suffered from negligence or accident, such as from swinging object injuries or slip and fall accidents
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Even above and beyond accident or neglect on behalf of the vessel’s owner, your daily routines aboard a vessel can expose you to the risk of hearing damage. If you suspect your hearing has been damaged by your employment aboard a vessel, you should look for some of the following symptoms:
- Speech seems muffled
- Trouble distinguishing consonants, or similar-sounding letters
- Ringing in the ears (also known as tinnitus)
- Hypersensitivity to certain sounds (higher pitched sounds, or sounds over a certain volume for example)
- Constantly increasing the volume of the TV, headphones, speakers, etc
Any or all of these symptoms could be the sign of substantial hearing loss, and should be immediately looked at by a medical professional to assess the damage.
What Can You Do If You Have Suffered Hearing Loss As A Result of Maritime Work?
Once you have sought medical treatment or evaluation for your hearing loss, the maritime lawyers of O’Bryan Law can help you fight for justice. We can help look over the details of your case and work to determine the cause of your hearing loss – and the best course of action thereafter.
Contact O’Bryan Law today to begin reviewing your case.