The most common workplace injury in the USA: hearing loss


Noise at work
© DR

USA Today recently ran an article on the risks of hearing loss in the workplace, indicating that 22 million workers are exposed annually in the United States to hazardous levels of occupational noise.

The article cites these numbers released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which published the results of its survey on the topic earlier this year. The CDC studied the prevalence of hearing problems within 9 industry sectors using over 1,400,000 noise-exposed worker audiograms from CDC’s Occupational Hearing Loss Surveillance Project carried out by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

According to the US Department of Labor, over USD 240 million is spent annually to compensate workers in the country for hearing loss disability. Earlier this summer, the Department of Labor launched a challenge known as “Hear and Now”, in which it called for innovative ideas and technology to better inform workers about hazardous noise levels. Detractors say that this technology already largely exists, but that this issue is more about implementation and awareness.

Interestingly, workers who are most at risk are those who are exposed to moderate, long-term noise, rather than those who work in extremely acutely noisy environments, who almost systematically use hearing protection. Another issue is the suitability of the regulations issued by NIOSH, which for many experts in the field are simply outdated and no longer reflect the status of knowledge concerning hearing damage.

Source: USAToday; CDC