Higher hearing loss rates than expected in some subsectors


Noise danger

A recent study has shown that workers in certain subsectors of the healthcare and social assistance industry experience hearing loss at a rate that is higher than expected, reports Canadian Occupational Safety.

The study was carried out by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It covered a period of 9 years (2003–2012) and involved analysis of hearing tests for 1.4 million workers in the US. Of these employees, 8,702 worked in the healthcare and social assistance sector.

Study findings showed that all subsectors of this sector posted higher risks of hearing loss than the reference industry used in the research. The only exception was hospitals. Interestingly, child day care services, ambulatory and healthcare services, offices of other healthcare practitioners, community food and housing, and emergency services were among the highest risk subsectors.

The sources of noise hazards are multiple and include temperature control equipment, dental equipment, monitor alarms, hospital laundry machinery, and emergency service helicopters. NIOSH recommendations include using acoustic treatment on laboratory walls and ceilings, moving noise-producing equipment out of the lab and into equipment rooms, and situating the compressors for temperature-controlled rooms remotely.

Another source of damage to hearing is certain drugs. “Exposure to chemotherapy drugs can be better prevented by using closed-system transfer devices for administering drugs, using double gloves and single-use gowns, improving awareness of risks among staff, and fostering a ‘blame-free’ environment for reporting spills,” the NIOSH researchers wrote, citing other studies.

Source: Canadian Occupational Safety