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FDA Final Rule Improves Access to Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

hearing aids

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a final rule allowing a new category of over the counter (OTC) hearings aids, allowing millions of Americans with mild to moderate hearing loss to purchase these essential devices directly from retailers without having to pay for exams, prescriptions, or fitting adjustments performed by specialists.

The historic rule, published in the Federal Register on August 17, 2022, is expected to lower costs and improve, the safety, effectiveness, and innovation of hearing aid technology. Consumers could be able to purchase OTC hearing aids online and in stores as soon as mid-October when the rule takes effect.

Occupational Noise Exposure & Hearing Loss

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), nearly 30 million adults in the U.S. could benefit from using a hearing aid. That includes millions of people who suffer from hearing loss and impairment caused by occupational noise exposure.

Workers across a variety of occupations – and particularly those in construction, industrial occupations, and other jobs where workers are routinely exposed to loud noises – face risks of noise-induced hearing loss. In fact, the CDC estimates that as many as 22 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year.

Exposure to loud noises can kill important nerve endings in the inner ear, causing permanent hearing loss than cannot be corrected through medicine or surgery. This type of hearing loss limits a person’s ability to hear high frequency sounds, understand speech, and communicate with others. And while hearing aids may not restore hearing to normal, they can help make daily life less difficult.

Given these risks, it’s important for both employers and employees to take steps to manage noise exposure and protect workers’ hearing. For some industries, like construction, this may entail compliance with specific workplace safety and health standards. It can also involve the use of providing and using proper hearing protection and employee training.

As a firm that’s fought for workers across New Jersey since 1939, our team at Levinson Axelrod, P.A. knows how profoundly hearing loss can affect a not only a person’s ability to work but also their independence and quality of life. It’s why we support efforts to make affordable hearing aids more accessible and make ourselves readily available to help workers who’ve experienced hearing-related injuries explore their options for workers’ compensation.

If you have questions about a workers’ compensation matter anywhere in New Jersey, we’re here to help. Call (732) 440-3089 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.