Maritime Hearing Loss

Whether noise is excessive or not depends on two things: the intensity of the sound and the length of exposure. People begin to experience damage to their hearing when they are exposed to sounds that are at least 85 decibels for a period of eight hours. For this reason, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the International Maritime Organization require workers to wear protective devices if they work in an environment as described above. Prolonged exposure to loud noise has been demonstrated to cause “noise-induced hearing loss,” and this condition is the most common illness shown to be related to the workplace in this country. However, it is a condition that is difficult for people to know that they have because it develops “painlessly, progressively and permanently” as the Coast Guard describes it. Other Maladies Associated with NIHL NIHL is responsible for hearing loss, but it also can cause the following maladies:

  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
  • Hypertension
  • Headaches
  • Tension in the muscles
  • Ulcers
  • Poor job performance
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Sleep disturbances

Excessive Noise Endangers More than Just Hearing Excessive noise on naval vessels is hazardous to people’s hearing but it also creates a dangerous work environment. On naval ships specifically, workers need to be able to communicate with each other by speech and with hand signals, and excessive noise interferes with this mode of communication. Solutions to the Problem One solution to this problem is ear muffs, but these devices make it difficult for people to hear each other. The walkie-talkie enables workers to communicate effectively with each other, but it cannot protect their hearing. The hand signal has been determined to be ineffective because these signals have been misinterpreted in the past. This makes excessive noise an impediment to a safe work environment. The Wireless Communication Headset The answer is the wireless communication headset. These devices reduce excessive noise by at least 20 decibels at the same time that they allow workers to hear each other. The microphone and ear speakers make it possible for workers to perform their duties without having to push buttons or carry the device. Most importantly, they protect workers’ hearing. Filing a Claim against Your Employer In the United States, four million people are exposed to noise levels that are considered to be dangerous on a daily basis. If you have worked on a ship where you were given one of the inferior solutions listed above or no solution at all, you may be one of the four million. With this being the case, you have the right to file a claim against your employer under the Jones Act Maritime. If you are suffering from hearing loss after working many years in a maritime environment, the Jones Act allows you to sue your employer or employers for monetary compensation for the following:

  • Medical treatment
  • Pain and suffering
  • Hearing aids
  • Future surgeries
  • Lost wages

To expedite your claim, you will want to hire a maritime attorney who can make this entire procedure easier for you. One of the first actions your attorney will need you to take is to obtain an audiogram that shows the severity of your hearing loss. The next thing you will need to do is report to your last employer that you have experienced this injury within 30 days of receiving your audiogram. You are within your rights to hire an offshore injury lawyer if you have worked on the rivers, piers, docks, barges, oil drilling platforms, dry docks or wharfs and suffered hearing loss or some other malady. You may have worked for several different employers in excessively noisy environments, but you can sue each one of these employers under the Jones Act Maritime. Contact a maritime attorney today so that you can receive the compensation that you deserve.