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WHAT!? USA Has the World's Noisiest Workplaces

Can't hear yourself think over the store's music system? Listen up, because U.S. workplaces are loud. Really loud. Among the loudest on the planet. Shh, don't say anything though, because corporate America doesn't want to hear it.

U.S. workplaces lack the adequate workplace noise standards found pretty much everywhere else. It's sort of like our national lack of paid maternity leave, only for the ears. Would you like a headache along with your halter top?

OSHA proposed updating workplace noise standards in 2010, but the manufacturing industry and the U.S. Chamber of Chamber of Commerce put their fingers in their ears and said "la-la-la-la-la." So OSHA dropped the proposal. Say, what?

Meanwhile, we Americans can't hear worth a crap anymore. As I blogged last year, one in four U.S. college students is already somewhat hearing impaired. The Better Hearing Institute estimates that 24 million Americans have untreated hearing loss, and two-thirds of them are under the age of 65.

My dad worked in a very noisy environment and suffered tremendous hearing loss. A typical conversation in his later years went something like this:

ME: Dad, would you like a sandwich?

DAD: What do you mean? I already took out the garbage!

ME: No, no, no, Dad! I asked if you would like a SANDWICH.

DAD: Now why would I wear sandals? It's raining outside!

So as someone who had lived with someone who had severe, workplace-related hearing loss, I have to say that better workplace noise standards would be much appreciated, or else we'll all be having these two-ships-passing-in-the-night kind of conversations in 20 years. Well, at least the hearing aid industry should do well.


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