NIOSH releases new noise research for service sector workers and ways to prevent occupational hearing loss

New research was recently published from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) about the prevalence of occupational hearing loss among noise-exposed Services industry sector workers. This part of the economy, which happens to be the largest employment sector of the U.S. industry, was found to have an elevated risk of hearing loss.

NIOSH researchers examined audiograms for 1.9 million noise-exposed workers across all industries, including audiograms for 158,436 Services workers, and found the following:

  • The prevalence of hearing loss within Services was 17%, very close to the prevalence of all industries combined (16%).
  • However, many sub-sectors greatly exceeded the overall prevalence by large percentages (10-33% higher), and many had high risks for hearing loss.
  • Workers in Administration of Urban Planning and Community and Rural Development had the highest prevalence (50%), and workers in Solid Waste Combustors and Incinerators had more than double the risk, the highest of any sub-sector.
  • Some sub-sectors traditionally viewed as ‘low-risk’ also had higher than expected prevalences and/or risks, such as professional and technical services and schools. For example, Custom Computer Programming Services, and Elementary and Secondary Schools, had prevalences 35% and 26%, respectively.

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