NIOSH Science Blog: Workplace hearing Loss

Surveillance of occupational hearing loss and noise exposure is vital to
prevention. But currently, comprehensive data on the prevalence and economic
impact of hearing loss are not available. To address this issue, The National
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published two articles to
estimate the national burden of hearing difficulty among workers in the U.S.

The two articles, "Exposure to Hazardous Workplace Noise and Use of Hearing
Protection Devices Among U.S. Workers-NHANES, 1999-2004" and "Hearing
Difficulty Attributable to Employment by Industry and Occupation: An Analysis
of the National Health Interview Survey-United States, 1997 to 2003.",
extrapolate data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
(NHANES) of 9,275 employed workers to the entire working population. The
analysis revealed:

  • More than 22 million U.S. workers were exposed to hazardous workplace noise.

  • Workers in the mining industry had the highest prevalence of workplace noise exposure with almost 3 out of 4 mining industry workers exposed. The mining industry has the second highest prevalence of hearing difficulty among all industrial sectors.

  • Over one third of all manufacturing workers (5.7 million workers total) reported exposure to loud noise.

  • One in four manufacturing workers exposed to loud noise reported non-use of hearing protection devices.

To get a better picture of the full extent of workplace hearing loss, NIOSH has
developed an ongoing surveillance program of occupational hearing loss in
collaboration with audiometric services providers. NIOSH will develop a
database and protocols to manage and analyze individual level audiometric data.
Data from this surveillance effort will help to identify emerging hearing loss
problems, including those associated with new industries, new technologies, or
new pieces of equipment. The analysis of the data will also produce national
reference statistics for the incidence (or prevalence) rate of occupational
hearing loss across industry and occupations. By 2012, a total of 15 providers
will be recruited to participate in this surveillance program. For more
information about this surveillance program or if you are interested in
participating in the surveillance program, send an e-mail to

Read the full blog on this page - Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)