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Study follows the use of Hearing Protection…

A study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that over half of noise-exposed workers in the United States did not use hearing protection “always” or “usually” when exposed to hazardous occupational noise.

An estimated 22 million workers in the U.S. face exposure to hazardous noise at work each year. While fewer workers are exposed to noise in industries like finance and insurance, and healthcare and social assistance, researchers found some of the highest prevalences of Hearing Protection Device (HPD) non-use among the exposed workers in these industries. Additionally, researchers found female workers, young workers (aged 18-25), and current smokers had a significantly higher prevalence of HPD non-use.

Among all workers exposed to noise, researchers found the majority (53%) did not wear hearing protection consistently. Industries with the highest HPD non-use among noise-exposed workers included accommodation and food services (90%), health care and social assistance (83%), and education services (82%). Additionally, some of the industries where noise is a well-recognised hazard, were found to have high prevalences of HPD non-use, including agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting (74%), and construction (52%).

“The prevalence of HPD non-use remains high. Increasing worker awareness and providing training about the importance of proper and consistent use of HPDs can protect workers from the effects of hazardous noise,” said Elizabeth Masterson, PhD, research epidemiologist and study co-author. “In addition, we need to overcome barriers to HPD use by ensuring that workers have HPDs that are comfortable and do not overprotect from noise so they can hear speech and other important workplace signals.”

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is the United States federal institute that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

Article by The Hearing Review. Original Paper: Green DR, Masterson EA, Themann CL. Prevalence of hearing protection device non-use among noise-exposed US workers in 2007 and 2014. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 2021. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ajim.23291