22 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels in their workplace each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many of these are ship workers.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends avoiding more than eight hours of exposure to more than 85 decibels. However, if you work on a ship, this can be impossible. Ships are full of constant loud noise, and you can be on a boat for days, weeks or months at a time. Even if you are only working on boats around Louisiana’s waterways, it is easy to be exposed to more noise than is safe.
Even earplugs and earmuffs may not be enough to keep your ears safe from noise-induced hearing loss. You do not need to work on ships for a long time to be affected. Some people have more sensitive hearing than others and can suffer quickly. Sudden loud noises such as shell exploding, can also cause hearing loss in seconds.
For many people, though, hearing loss creeps up gradually, through years of accrued noise exposure, without them noticing. By the time you realize it is too late. Your hearing cannot come back, and you will suffer for the rest of your life.
You can claim compensation for noise-induced hearing loss while working on boats, but the rules and insurance schemes are different from those on land. Consult with a lawyer who deals with the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act — they can help you understand how to file your claim.