SAINT JOHN, N.B. – New Brunswick’s workers’ compensation board is urging workers in the province to protect their hearing, warning that exposure to extreme noise can cause permanent damage. In a May 16 news release, WorkSafeNB stated that it had paid $15.4 million in workers’ compensation to workers who had been diagnosed with noise-induced hearing loss in 2016. The board has also provided hearing aids and other services to more than 8,000 N.B. workers since 2007. “Noise-induced hearing loss needs to be taken seriously,” WorkSafeNB acting president and CEO Tim Petersen said in a press statement. “Unlike a cut or fracture, it’s rarely painful and usually develops gradually over time, but it can have debilitating effects.” The organization announced in the release that it was launching a campaign to encourage workers in noisy environments to wear hearing protection like earmuffs and earplugs. “We want to raise awareness… of the prevalence and seriousness of this occupational disease,” said Petersen, “so workers don’t need to live with its debilitating effects for the rest of their lives.” Employers in the province must provide hearing protection in workplaces where the noise level exceeds 90 decibels, as per the Occupational Health and Safety Act.