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Government to tackle hearing loss — Georgia work injuries often responsible

The federal government is updating work safety rules involving noise in the workplace in an effort to reduce the risk of Georgia work injuries involving deafness or hearing loss.

Cases of hearing loss are quite common for factory workers and those who work long-term in other high-noise occupations. Unfortunately, the injury is not always associated with the workplace and many fail to seek proper compensation for treatment. Hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars and need periodic replacement. Loss of hearing may also impact your ability to hold certain jobs or occupational licenses and may even impact your ability to drive a car or retain your driver’s license. Those dealing with hearing loss as a result of long-term exposure to a noisy work environment, or as the result of a work accident, should contact an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer to protect their rights.
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The Occupational Safety & Health Administration reports more than 125,000 cases of employees suffering significant, permanent hearing loss in the last six years. In 2008, a total of 22,000 cases were reported.

“We’re very eager to get input from those parties who would be affected by this proposed interpretation,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “We have by no means completed our review of the issue and seek to make an informed decision that is in the best interest of protecting workers, yet sensitive to the operating changes businesses would need to make.”

Beyond the rhetoric, the government has announced it has extended the deadline for input into the rule changes by 90 days. This typically happens when a large number of employers object to the cost or other factors involved with improving work-safety rules.

The government is now taking comment on the proposals until March 21. OSHA’s current enforcement policy for noise of less than 100 decibels involves allowing employers to rely on conservation programs, like ear plugs. The new rules would require more aggressive action through administrative and engineering changes or the use of other available technologies.

“There is sufficient evidence that hearing protection alone cannot prevent workers from suffering preventable hearing loss,” said Michaels. “Easily applied administrative or engineering controls can and must be used to protect workers. There are plenty of employers out there who play by the rules and want to do the right thing, and we’re hopeful we can work with them to craft a policy that’s good for all.”

The Atlanta work accident lawyers at the Law Offices of J. Franklin Burns, P.C., have the knowledge and experience to help clients obtain all of the benefits to which they are entitled under the Georgia workers’ compensation program. Our experienced staff will also carefully review the facts and circumstances of your accident to determine whether additional claims can be filed against someone other than your employer. For a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights, call 678-298-0323.