Miners and oil and gas workers in Kentucky may be at a higher risk for hearing loss, especially if they are exposed to dangerous levels of noise. In some sectors of these industries, workers had up to a 30% chance of hearing loss while around one-quarter of other workers had some damage to their ability to hear. Exposure to dangerous noise levels as defined by OSHA regulations is common in the mining industry as well as in oil and gas extraction. Experts say that around 61% of all workers in these industries experience high noise levels; this risk can be exacerbated by the presence of chemicals also linked to a greater likelihood of hearing difficulties.
Among miners, around 24% of workers exposed to noise also had some level of hearing loss. This kind of workplace injury can develop over time due to continued occupational exposure to high noise levels. While workers in gravel and sand mining had the highest risk of hearing damage, with 36% suffering, other miners also faced serious problems. Around 31% of workers exposed to dangerous noise in uranium mining lost at least some of their hearing as did 28% of bituminous coal miners and 27% of iron ore miners. Even workers in support positions had a substantially higher risk of hearing damage.
In oil and gas extraction, researchers found that around 14% of workers exposed to high noise levels on the job had some kind of hearing problems. Natural gas extraction workers had a 76% higher risk of losing their hearing than workers in jobs outside the industry without excessive noise exposure.
Hearing loss and other serious problems can develop after years of workplace injuries and occupational exposure. A workers’ compensation lawyer may help injured workers to protect their rights and seek the benefits that they are entitled to receive.