NIOSH Study Highlights Industries with Hearing Difficulties

A study published by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine which reports that hazardous noise affects approximately 22 million U.S. workers, is the first to report prevalence estimates for tinnitus by U.S. industry sector and occupation and provide these estimates side by side with prevalence estimates of hearing difficulty, according to NIOSH.

The study examined hearing difficulty and tinnitus in various industries, based on data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. This provided detailed, self-reported information on hearing difficulty, tinnitus, and exposures to occupational noise.

According to NIOSH, hazardous noise affects approximately 22 million U.S. workers, with an additional 9 million exposed to solvents and metals that put them at risk for hearing loss.

Occupational hearing loss is one of the most common occupational diseases. 49% of male miners have hearing loss by the age of 50. By the age of 60, this number goes up to 70%. Construction workers also suffer an elevated risk. A screening program focused on construction workers employed at US Department of Energy facilities found 58% with significant abnormal hearing loss due to noise exposures at work.

Occupational hearing loss is present in up to 33% of workers overall. Occupational exposure to noise causes 16% of adult disabling hearing loss worldwide.