There are many risks involved in working at sea. A life-altering injury can occur in a matter of seconds. However, this is not always the case.
Some injuries occur gradually, going unnoticed for years. Hearing loss is one such injury.
Causes of hearing loss in maritime workers
Exposure to loud noise is a common hazard of working on a ship or dock. Over time, noise exposure can damage the nerves in the inner ear, leading to permanent noise-induced hearing loss.
Less commonly, a head injury can cause hearing loss. The severity and permanence of the hearing loss depend on the nature of the head injury.
Time limits on obtaining compensation
Normally, there is a statute of limitations on filing a claim for compensation for an injury. This is typically one year under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and three years under the Jones Act.
However, hearing loss is different, as the injury occurs over time. Generally, the period in which you can file a claim begins when a health care provider diagnoses your hearing loss with an audiogram.
Hearing loss prevention
Wearing hearing protection is essential when working around loud machinery. Barriers and distance can reduce the impact of noise. Keeping equipment maintained and lubricated is important as well, as it can decrease the noise produced by machinery.
Your employer is responsible for providing proper training and equipment and following safety regulations to help you avoid workplace injuries.
Hearing loss can occur gradually, making it difficult to notice. If you work on or near the water, you should be aware of the risk of hearing loss, how to prevent it and what to do if it occurs.