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Exposure to Chemicals Linked to Hearing Loss

Milford Workers’ Compensation Lawyers discuss hearing loss caused by workplace chemical exposure. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has indicated that exposure to ototoxic chemicals can increase a worker’s chances of hearing loss. Although ototoxins can cause hearing loss on their own, workers who are simultaneously exposed to ototoxins and loud noises in the workplace are at an increased risk. This is true even if the exposure to loud noise is at the suggested safe level.

What are Ototoxicants?

Ototoxic chemicals can be eaten, absorbed, or inhaled. Although certain occupations expose workers to these chemicals, ototoxins can also be found in the home. For example:

  • Benzene is be found in plastics and cleaning agents
  • Carbon disulfide is found in pesticides
  • Carbon monoxide is found in vehicle exhaust, cigarette smoke, gasoline-powered tools, and dryers
  • Trichloroethylene is found in dry cleaning chemicals, spot remover, rug cleaners, paints, waxes, and pesticides
  • Toluene is found in paints, lacquers, and adhesives

In addition to ototoxins found in everyday products, some anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory medications have also been identified as ototoxic.

High-Risk Occupations

Certain occupations put workers at an inherently greater risk for toxic exposure than others. The following types of occupations expose workers to both loud noises and ototoxic chemicals:

  • Construction
  • Firefighting
  • Boat Building
  • Furniture making
  • Manufacturing
  • Painting
  • Printing
  • Welding
  • Weapons firing

The research on ototoxic exposure is limited because hearing tests cannot completely determine the cause of hearing loss. Additionally, OSHA standards for ototoxic chemicals and noise exposure in the workplace have yet to be established. Workers who currently believe they are at an increased risk for exposure to ototoxins are advised to have frequent hearing tests, wear protective equipment, and work in well ventilated areas.

Symptoms of Ototoxic Exposure

The symptoms of exposure to ototoxins can include mild to severe hearing loss. OSHA notes that speech discrimination dysfunction is especially hazardous because the affected worker has difficulty distinguishing between co-workers’ voices, warning signals, and background noise.

Ototoxic exposure can also cause dizziness, balance issues, headaches, blurry vision, and weakness. Workers experiencing these symptoms on the job compromise their own safety, placing themselves at an even greater risk for further injury in the workplace.

Employer Responsibility

However, workers at risk for exposure to ototoxins are not expected to fend for themselves. Employers must provide health and safety information and safety equipment, as well as training to workers exposed to all hazardous materials. This includes ototoxic chemicals. Additionally, OSHA states that complaints from employees regarding hearing loss should be investigated by the employer to identify the possibility of ototoxicants at the jobsite.

Milford Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Protect Employees Injured by Toxins in the Workplace

For more information on the effects of exposure to ototoxins in the workplace, contact a Milford Workers’ Compensation lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow. If you have been injured in a workplace accident or suffer from a workplace illness, our lawyers can assist with filing a Workers’ Compensation claim and protect your legal rights. Call us today at 302-422-6705 or contact us online. With offices located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we proudly serve clients throughout the state, including the areas of Elsmere and Seaford.