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Occupational hearing loss in the 21st century.

Can Hear Rep 2013 Feb; 8(1):41-44
The link between loud noise and hearing loss has been known for centuries. (1) Certain trades, including blacksmiths, were plagued by noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). The industrial revolution with water and steam powered engines made NIHL even more common place. In the United States in 1935 the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act empowered the Executive Branch of the government with legal authority in American industries to regulate worker safety and health when doing business with the government.(2) This act provided the legislation that enabled the first U.S. occupational safety and health regulations. With the end of World War II thousands of U.S. veterans returned home with NIHL and tinnitus from firearms and munitions used in battle and training. Recognizing this handicap, the U.S. military services became the first organizations to deploy hearing conservation programs. How do we reduce occupational hearing loss going forward? An important component is to reduce or eliminate noise in the workplace. The NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention Team has been developing a program to encourage construction companies to Buy Quiet (16) when purchasing equipment. The NIOSH website already has more than 160 powered hand tools listed with their sound power levels. The Team was given support to start an award program designed to recognize companies doing an exceptional job in hearing loss prevention. This award was founded in partnership with the National Hearing Conservation Association. The awards are called the Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention award. Nominations are accepted via a webpage. The goal of the award project is to learn from, and disseminate these real-world success strategies. Ultimately, reducing occupational hearing loss will require technology advancements, improved surveillance, personal training, motivation, regulation and enforcement. There are environments where hearing protectors cannot safely be implemented. There are environments where noise cannot be reduced to safe levels. Using multiple strategies and collaborative efforts these and many other problems in today's noisy workplaces can be addressed and occupational hearing loss can be reduced or eliminated.
Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Noise-protection; Noise-exposure; Noise-control; Noise-shielding; Noise-shields; Hearing-loss; Hearing-impairment; Hearing-conservation; Hearing-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Protective-equipment; Engineering-controls; Control-technology; Control-equipment; Control-methods; Environmental-control-equipment; Equipment-design
Rickie R. Davis, PhD., National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Mail Stop C- 27, Cincinnati, OH 45226
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Canadian Hearing Report