Is my employer responsible for hearing loss on a ship?

| Jun 17, 2021 | Firm News |

Sailors often write about the silence of the oceans. That may be true for a lone around-the-world yachtsman, yet if you work on a commercial vessel, silence is rare.

Commercial boats are noisy places, and as a result, you may suffer hearing loss over time. Until it happens, you will not realize the devastating effect it can have on your whole life. Fortunately, you may be able to claim compensation under the Jones Act.

Some noises provide a greater risk of hearing loss than others

A recent study looked at how noise on ships can put human health at risk. It showed four main factors that influenced how much threat a sound posed:

  • Loudness: The louder sound, the more dangerous it can be to your hearing, even if the sound is only occasional. 
  • Pitch: For example, you can feel the effects of a bass speaker in a club pulse through your body. Or you may put your fingers in your ears at certain high-pitched sounds. Yet you listen to sounds at pitches somewhere in between all day long without issue.
  • Duration: The longer a sound lasts, the more damage it can do because you receive more exposure to it.
  • Frequency of exposure: Imagine you usually work on deck. One day you have to go into the engine room and emerge with your ears ringing. Now imagine how that sound must affect those who work in the engine room day after day.

The report points out how the design of a ship could reduce or exacerbate noise. Employers and shipbuilders need to consider acoustics and insulation when designing and outfitting ships. Safety equipment such as earmuffs and earplugs can only do so much. Your hearing is valuable, and you deserve appropriate medical treatment and compensation when your work caused some damage.