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NIOSH study examines hearing loss in mining, oil and gas

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Washington — Nearly 1 out of 4 mining workers experience job-related hearing loss, and more than 1 out of 3 employees in one industry subgroup are affected, according to a recent NIOSH study.

Researchers analyzed 1.9 million U.S. workers’ audiogram results from 2006 to 2015. Among these noise-exposed workers, 9,389 were in mining and 1,076 in oil and gas extraction. Findings show that 24% of the mining workers had job-related hearing loss – the highest prevalence of any industry.

Other findings:

  • 61% of the mining, oil and gas workers were exposed to hazardous occupational noise.
  • Within the mining sector, 36% of workers in construction sand and gravel mining had hearing loss, followed by miners in the uranium-radium-vanadium ore (31%) and bituminous coal and lignite surface (28%) mining subgroups.
  • Within the oil and gas sector, 28% of natural gas liquid extraction workers had hearing loss.

“Occupational hearing loss is entirely preventable, and knowing which workers are at greatest risk can help better tailor strategies to protect their hearing,” Elizabeth Masterson, study co-author and NIOSH epidemiologist, said in an Aug. 27 press release.

The study was published online July 26 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

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