Hearing Loss Common in Mining, Manufacturing Industries

According to a report using information from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), workers in the mining, construction and manufacturing industries experienced a relatively high amount of hearing loss attributable to occupational factors. This report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that 13 percent of all total workers exposed to noise regularly had some form of hearing loss or related damage.

Overall, the extent of hearing loss among demographic groups tended to increase with age and was higher among male workers than female. Mining workers experienced the highest prevalence of hearing loss as well as the highest degree of exposure to loud noises. According to this study, 76% of all mining workers are exposed to hazardous noise while on the job. This is the highest percentage of workers in any industry. Only about 37% of workers in the manufacturing sector are exposed to hazardous noise, but because of the volume of workers in the industry this still accounts for the highest total number of employees who experience hazardous noise in any industry in the United States. In total, employees in all industries lost about 2.53 accumulated healthy years per 1,000 workers who were exposed to noise annually.

“Occupational hearing loss is a permanent but entirely preventable condition with today’s hearing loss prevention strategies and technology,” the report says. “Concurrent with prevention efforts, early detection of hearing loss by consistent annual audiometric testing, and intervention to preclude further loss (e.g., refitting hearing protection, training), are critical. Although lost hearing cannot be recovered, workers can benefit from clinical rehabilitation, which includes fitting hearing aids, learning lip-reading, and adopting other compensation strategies to optimize hearing. Study results support beginning rehabilitation at a mild level of hearing impairment. Prevention, and early detection, intervention, and rehabilitation, might greatly improve workers’ quality of life.”