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Mining, manufacturing have highest prevalence of worker hearing loss, study shows

Image: Honeywell Safety Products

Washington – More than one out of eight workers exposed to on-the-job noise suffer from some form of hearing impairment, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Using data from the NIOSH Occupational Hearing Loss Surveillance Project, researchers examined the results of more than 1.4 million audiograms of workers who were exposed to noise from 2003 to 2012. They found that, across all industries, 13 percent of noise-exposed workers had some form of hearing impairment. The prevalence of hearing loss was highest in the mining (17 percent), construction (16 percent) and manufacturing (14 percent) sectors.

In addition, the prevalence and severity of hearing impairment increased with age, and men were twice as likely as women to suffer hearing impairment.

Researchers also found that, overall, 2.53 healthy years were lost per 1,000 noise-exposed workers annually. Statistics show that work-related hearing loss is the most common occupational illness in the United States.

“Occupational hearing loss is a permanent but entirely preventable condition with today’s hearing loss prevention strategies and technology,” the authors said in the report. “Concurrent with prevention efforts, early detection of hearing loss by consistent annual audiometric testing, and intervention to preclude further loss are critical.”

The study was published in the April 22 edition of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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