By Linda Colsen, SVP of Product Management, One Call
Approximately 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous, on-the-job noise each year.1 About one in eight people in the U.S. working population has difficulty hearing, and of those, about one in four was caused by occupational exposures.2 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concludes that hearing loss is the most common injury that occurs in the workplace.3
A study conducted by Stanford University found that people who most often suffer from workplace noise-induced hearing loss are those who work in moderately noisy jobs, as compared with jobs in high-noise environments. This includes an array of professions, such as bartending, nursery school teaching, farming, and even dentistry. The reason for this surprising conclusion is that, in high-noise environments – such as mining, construction, and manufacturing – people are aware of the risks to their hearing, so they always wear hearing protection gear. In positions that involve moderate noise, however, people are less likely to be aware of the risks posed by continuous exposure to noise so they do not take similar precautions.4
With so many individuals affected by jobsite hearing loss, it is important to properly manage these claims with the right care, the right device, and the right ongoing support system.
Access to the Right Care
The “right care” means having access to a nationwide provider network that includes specialists – namely, Audiologists and Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctors – who work together to provide injured workers with holistic care.
ENT doctors focus on advanced medical issues, such as diseases, traumas, tumors, or abnormalities. They may also treat nerve issues that affect the movement of the head or neck. Audiologists, on the other hand, specialize in diagnosing and treating issues associated with general hearing loss, tinnitus, or balance. They also have expertise in the technology used to manage these conditions.
Depending on symptoms, a worker may initially see an ENT doctor to make sure their hearing loss isn’t the result of a specific medical condition, or they may be referred to an audiologist to address symptoms caused by general hearing loss. It is important that workers rely upon these specialists – instead of trying to self-diagnose – so they receive the most appropriate treatment plan possible.
If it is decided the worker is dealing with general hearing loss, hearing aids are often prescribed. But, with so many options to choose from – and a wide range of costs and sophistication – injured workers should not be treated with a one-size-fits-all approach. Audiologist peer support goes a long way in helping to ensure proper diagnosis and the best device, based on each injured worker’s level of hearing loss and individual lifestyle.
Whether your injured worker needs a simple device or the most sophisticated hearing aid, choose a partner who has extensive manufacturer relationships and the purchasing power to deliver a customized solution.
While a lot of durable medical equipment doesn’t need further support after delivery, hearing aids are a lifetime commitment. Most hearing aids only last between three to seven years due to daily wear and tear.5 This means they will need repairs, and even replacement, throughout a worker’s life – and these costs can add up. It’s important to have a partner who can manage these needs for you and your injured worker as they arise.
To maximize your cost savings and prolong the life of each hearing aid, take the time to thoroughly assess a potential partner’s hearing loss program components – such as the hearing aid warranty, the hearing aid replacement coverage, and the cost of replacement batteries. A multi-year hearing aid warranty and a lifetime supply of batteries, for example, can go a long way in curbing your long-term hearing loss claim costs.
With millions of workers exposed to continued, moderate on-the-job noise each year, hearing aids should be high on your list of coordinated ancillary services. And with ongoing care – and the associated costs – to consider, make sure you choose a partner who can properly manage the noise surrounding hearing loss claims.
About Linda Colsen
Linda Colsen is senior vice president of product management at One Call. In her role, Linda oversees the development and enhancement of One Call’s care coordination solutions. From core solutions, such as physical therapy and diagnostics, to specialty programs that address more complex needs, such as In-Patient Facility Solutions and One Call® CarePath™ injury-specific recovery pathways, Linda and her team are dedicated to delivering care coordination that bridges gaps and streamlines processes within claims management. Her commitment to excellence continually earns her the respect and trust of clients, providers, and injured workers alike.
For nearly 15 years, Linda has served One Call in various leadership roles. Prior to One Call, she was a principal consultant with both IBM Business Consulting Services and PWC Consulting, where she focused on business process design and reengineering, with an emphasis on customer engagement and experience.
About One Call
As a leader in the workers’ compensation industry, One Call has an unwavering commitment to getting injured workers the care they need when they need it. Leveraging more than 30 years of industry experience and innovative solutions, we are moving injured workers through their care journeys better than ever before, providing exceptional, predictive, and responsive care coordination. For more information and the latest news, visit us at onecallcm.com, LinkedIn (One Call), Facebook (@onecallcm), and Twitter (@onecallcm).
1 Center of Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/about.html
2Center of Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/about.html
3HeaRite Audiological Care. Retrieved from Hearing Loss: The Most Common Workplace Injury. https://hearitenj.com/hearing-loss-common-workplace-injury/
4HeaRite Audiological Care. Retrieved from Hearing Loss: The Most Common Workplace Injury. https://hearitenj.com/hearing-loss-common-workplace-injury/
5Victory, Joy. (2020, August 31). Retrieved from How often should you get new hearing aids? https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/51928-Signs-you-need-a-new-hearing-aid
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