If you work with ships or sail on them, you know how noisy they can be. Yet, when you signed up for your job, you probably never considered that it might cause permanent damage to your hearing.
Unfortunately, hearing loss is an issue that many mariners and shipyard workers have to deal with. What’s more, it’s one they will have to deal with for the rest of their life, as a worker’s ears won’t just get better once they stop working. Once your hearing goes, it is gone for good.
When you can’t escape the noise
Issuing earplugs and ear defenders is crucial, as are other measures, such as isolating the sources of loud noises, so they do not travel too far. Yet the very nature of the job often makes such efforts – beyond issuing proper PPE – impossible.
If you work in an engine room, you will need to go down into that noisy place, perhaps for hours at a time. If you use an angle grinder or other power tool, you may need to have them running for most of the day.
Even if you do neither of these things, ships and shipyards are incredibly noisy places and long-term, you may be exposed to enough noise to damage your hearing. One report found that only 14.9% of workers on ships aged over 50 still had their hearing fully intact.
The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act exists to help people who lose their hearing or suffer other injuries while working on ships in ports or boatyards. The Jones Act provides similar benefits for those injured when the ships were at sea. If you have suffered hearing damage, consider seeking legal help to understand your options.