Hearing loss was discovered in 34% of police personnel, compared to 15% of the general public. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) may have a catastrophic effect on your career, capacity to perform at your best, and even your personal safety on the job, not to mention your personal life outside of work.
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An Overlooked Occupational Hazard
More over one-third of police officers have Noise-induced hearing loss, which is more than double the prevalence of the general population. Additionally, female police are more likely to experience it than male officers if they have been on the force for more than 15 years.
Although a lot of people believe that exposure to loud noises causes NIHL, the truth is that it’s not only the loudness that matters. Even at very low noise levels, the length and intensity of exposure can have a significant impact on hearing acuity.
It makes sense that so many police officers would experience hearing loss given a typical day in their job. Noise exposure is a factor in almost every aspect of the job.
It all mounts up over time, whether it’s the continual hum of traffic and blaring horns, the shrill of sirens during a chase, the screaming of radio transmissions, the barking of K-9 units, or explosive noises like gunshots or flashbangs.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in the Police Force: Symptoms
Unfortunately, exposure to noise is often impossible to prevent for law enforcement employees -with the exception of range practice in a controlled setting, police officers cannot simply wear hearing protection while on the job as construction workers and machine operators can.
If a suspect is lurking around the corner or a passing car is getting dangerously near during a routine traffic check, police officers must be able to hear well to stay highly aware of everything around them. Hearing loss is exceedingly harmful, yet the same circumstances that make hearing protection impractical also make it impossible.
In addition to endangering your own safety, poor hearing can have a detrimental impact on investigations. During an interrogation, if you can’t hear a witness or suspect, you risk missing important cues from their body language or spoken words that might compromise your ability to gather evidence.
Since NIHL often develops gradually, it is simple to ignore or fail to identify the symptoms. In fact, because of your compensatory habits, it’s more likely that others, such as your loved ones, coworkers, or spouse, would notice the issue.
Symptoms consist of:
- Swiveling your head to get your “good ear” nearer to the noise. You might not even be aware that you’re doing this small action since it can become so automatic.
- Requesting a recurrence. If you frequently catch yourself saying, “Huh?” or “What?” during a discussion because someone isn’t speaking loud enough, it’s not them – it’s probably you.
- You experience vulnerability at work. Hearing loss may be to blame if you experience increased anxiety or discomfort in confrontational situations because you don’t feel fully aware of your surroundings.
- Loud surroundings may be daunting. It’s an obvious symptom of a problem if going out for dinner or drinks at a restaurant or bar makes you feel uneasy or nervous because you can’t hear or follow the discussion.
- Removing oneself from activities. You might choose to stay at home on occasion if you have hearing loss since it makes you feel so uneasy. For instance, it is obvious that hearing loss affects your life if you use lame justifications to cancel dinner engagements or skip your child’s school play.
Cover Your Ears
Continuous exposure to noises louder than 85 dB is harmful to the ears. However, this happens frequently in a police officer’s day to day existence. Hearing is essential for emergency help since it is difficult to see when faced with sirens, radios, equipment to access buildings, noisy crowds, shouting individuals, and shooting.
Given the likelihood that first responders may encounter hazardous noise levels every time they operate, it is crucial for employees to take an active approach to ear health. Cumulative hearing loss becomes worse over time. While police cannot completely avoid noisy emergency situations, they may work to lessen the negative impacts of ongoing loud noise exposure.
To help with it, there is Police Health. The installation of hearing aids and speech treatment are available to law police. Wherever feasible, always use earplugs, practice home meditation and relaxation techniques, and stay away from drugs that could damage your ears.
Every year, have your hearing checked. Your livelihood depends on it.
Visit An Audiologist
First, schedule a hearing evaluation with a licensed audiologist. A qualified expert can assess your hearing range and provide helpful recommendations, such as hearing aids. It’s crucial to understand that modern hearing aids are not the same as those used by your grandfather. These are advanced audio systems that are hardly audible and made for those who lead active lives.
Many even include Bluetooth and a complimentary smartphone app that let you change the settings based on the surrounding conditions. For a romantic dinner date, for instance, you could turn up the background noise cancellation, or you could make adjustments for traffic or crowd control.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in the Police Force: Compensation
The Workers Compensation Program was established in 1911 to encourage employers to make the workplace safer by requiring safety programs and the use of safety devices.
Since 1911, there have been over 2.5 million workers compensation claims filed. Hearing loss workers compensation claims now rank #3 in the number of occupational disease claims filed.
Hearing loss workers compensation benefits are largely undiscovered benefits covering hearing health care, which is often uninsured. Many health insurance policies and programs like Medicare do not cover hearing aid purchases but workers compensation can.
It also pays for the disability of hearing loss just as it does for the loss of eyesight or other injuries.
Aging populations, advances in technology, and greater sensitivity to hearing loss are bringing more attention to financing hearing health care. For the most part, those who qualify for hearing loss workers compensation benefits under are retired hearing-impaired workers who live on fixed incomes.
Always feel free to ask Johnson Law Offices about the process, the law, or an individual case. The legal, medical, and audio-metric questions that come into play in a hearing loss workers compensation claim can be complicated.
The claims require attention to detail mixed with an ability to work well with hearing-impaired retirees and their families, especially spouses, and their hearing health care professionals.