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Miners, oil and gas extraction workers at risk for hearing loss

Florida residents who work in the gas and oil extraction and mining industries are at risk for hearing loss, according to the American Journal of Industrial Medicine's new study. In fact, around 61% of all workers in those industries have experienced dangerous levels of on-the-job noise.

Researchers found that 24% of all miners exposed to noise had some degree of hearing loss. Specifically, 36% of construction sand and gravel miners; 31% of uranium, radium, and vanadium ore miners; 28% of bituminous coal and lignite surface miners; 27% of iron ore miners; and 24% of copper and nickel ore miners, all of whom are regularly exposed to noise, suffered some form of hearing loss.

Researchers also found that noise-exposed gold ore miners were 71% more likely to suffer hearing loss than mail couriers and messengers, who have a low risk. As for the oil and gas extraction industry, researchers found that 14% of all workers in the industry suffered some degree of hearing loss. Specifically, 28% of noise-exposed workers in the natural liquid gas extraction industry experienced hearing loss. They also were 76% more likely to suffer hearing loss than mail couriers and messengers.

In order to prevent hearing loss, the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health recommends that workers be exposed to less than 85 decibels of noise per eight-hour shift. Meanwhile, experts recommend that companies take steps to reduce noise levels in the workplace and rotate employees out of noisy areas and tasks to decrease their exposure. Experts also recommend that workers should wear personal protective gear, such as expandable foam earplugs, ear canal caps and earmuffs.

Individuals who suffer on-the-job hearing loss might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. A workers' comp attorney might be able to review a person's case and help prepare the claim.

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