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Keywords:

  • occupational hearing loss;
  • hearing impairment;
  • hazardous noise;
  • noise-induced hearing loss;
  • occupational noise exposure standard

Abstract

Background

Twenty-two million workers are exposed to hazardous noise in the United States. The purpose of this study is to estimate the prevalence of hearing loss among U.S. industries.

Methods

We examined 2000–2008 audiograms for male and female workers ages 18–65, who had higher occupational noise exposures than the general population. Prevalence and adjusted prevalence ratios (PRs) for hearing loss were estimated and compared across industries.

Results

In our sample, 18% of workers had hearing loss. When compared with the Couriers and Messengers industry sub-sector, workers employed in Mining (PR = 1.65, CI = 1.57–1.73), Wood Product Manufacturing (PR = 1.65, CL = 1.61–1.70), Construction of Buildings (PR = 1.52, CI = 1.45–1.59), and Real Estate and Rental and Leasing (PR = 1.59, CL = 1.51–1.68) had higher risks for hearing loss.

Conclusions

Workers in the Mining, Manufacturing, and Construction industries need better engineering controls for noise and stronger hearing conservation strategies. More hearing loss research is also needed within traditional “low-risk” industries like Real Estate. Am. J. Ind. Med. 56:670–681, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.