53% of the American workers who are exposed to noise at work do not use hearing protection devices, a study finds.

In the United States, 22 million workers (14%) are exposed to hazardous noise on the job each year. Noisy work can harm your hearing and cause a noise-induced hearing loss.

A study estimated the prevalence of use of hearing protection devices among US workers exposed to hazardous workplace noise and provided risk estimates. The share of workers who do not use hearing protection devices remains high, the study finds.

53% of all noise-exposed workers did not use hearing protection in 2014. In 2007, the percentage was 56%.

The study used self-reported data from the National Health Interview Survey in 2007 (15,852 workers) and 2014 (23,656 workers). Of these workers, 2,057 (13%) reported exposure to occupational noise during the preceding 12 months in 2007 and 3,380 (14%) in 2014.

High and low prevalence

Workers in the “Accommodation and Food Services industry” had the highest prevalence of non-use with 90% not using hearing protection.

In noisy industries such as manufacturing (28%), mining (28%) and utilities (38%), most workers used hearing protection and therefore they had the lowest proportions of non-use.

Some of the highest proportions of non-use of hearing protection devices were of course seen among industries with lower prevalence of occupational noise exposure. But among some industries with higher prevalence of reported occupational noise exposure, such as “arts, entertainment, and recreation” and “agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting”, non-use of hearing protection was relatively high (64% and 74% respectively).

The study, “Prevalence of hearing protection device non-use among noise-exposed US workers in 2007 and 2014”, was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Sources:  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov and the American Journal of Industrial Medicine

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