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Workplace injuries: Noise exposure leads to OSHA citations

The list of workplace hazards that workers in Pennsylvania are exposed to is endless. Some workplace injuries or illnesses develop over time, and determining a date of onset is difficult. These maladies are sometimes caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, but exposure to excessive noise can also cause irreparable damage. Not only will damaged hearing have life-altering consequences, but it can lead to other workplace injuries. Compromised hearing can prevent workers from hearing warning signals, which can expose them to additional safety hazards.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration have strict regulations related to work environments in which high levels of noise are present. The agency recently cited a Pennsylvania pallet repair company for violations related to noise exposure and control. The company was ordered to implement immediate measures to prevent workers' injuries due to excessive noise levels.

The findings of the OSHA inspection cited the company's failure to control noise levels, and OSHA mandated the company conduct regular audiometric testing to identify damaged hearing in workers who are exposed to high noise levels. The company also failed to report hospitalization as required by the agency. These violations were classified as willful, serious, and other-than-serious violations respectively.

Pennsylvania workers who become aware of a loss of hearing after working in environments with high levels of noise may benefit from medical evaluations. Workers who are covered by workers' compensation are entitled to pursue benefits to cover medical expenses if they suffer workplace injuries or illnesses. Lost wages due to absence from work will also form part of the compensation, and if the injury has long-term consequences, additional coverage may be provided.

Source: osha.gov, "Pallet rental company fined nearly by OSHA for failing to protect employees from noise hazards at Hazelton depot", Aug. 18, 2015

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