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NIOSH Program Portfolio

 

Manufacturing

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

927ZJFH - National Surveillance of Occupational Hearing Loss

Start Date: 5/1/2009
End Date: 9/30/2012

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Sangwoo Tak
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: DSHEFS
Funded By: NIOSH

Primary Goal Addressed
4.0

Secondary Goal Addressed
None


Attributed to Manufacturing
50%

Project Description

Short Summary

Audiometric testing is used to identify workers with OHL and those with elevated hearing thresholds but who don't meet the criteria for OHL. A large proportion of workplaces use private audiometric testing services to provide audiograms for their workers. This project represents the first attempt to aggregate data from these audiometric testing services to create a national audiometric data repository. We will recruit 10-15 audiometric service providers to participate in this project. We will develop a database and protocols to manage and analyze audiometric data furnished by these providers.



Description

Background

At present, little noise or hearing loss surveillance is conducted. Lack of surveillance data was a key shortcoming of the NIOSH Hearing Loss Research Program (HLRP) as determined by the National Academies Institute of Medicine (IOM). The IOM recommended that HLRP initiate national surveillance to track occupational hearing loss (OHL) and workplace noise exposure. In response we propose to implement a surveillance system using audiometric data from audiometric testing service providers in the US. This proposal targets the construction, and manufacturing industry sectors because each of these sectors has identified the prevention of OHL as a major strategic goal. Additionally, our recent analysis of the National Health Interview Survey data showed that workers in these two sectors have a high risk of hearing loss.



Specific Aims

The main objective of this project is to conduct a surveillance research to track occupational hearing loss and noise exposure. This objective will be achieved through the following specific aims:



1. Collect audiometric data from audiometric testing service providers to develop an audiometric data repository to track occupational hearing loss

2. Estimate the incidence/prevalence rate of occupational hearing loss and the average change in hearing ability per year by industry and occupation

3. Identify workplace characteristics associated with a high risk of occupational hearing loss in the construction and manufacturing industry sectors

4. Disseminate results to partners, stakeholders, and the scientific community.



Project Design and Methods

Audiometric testing is used to identify workers with OHL and those with elevated hearing thresholds but who don't meet the criteria for OHL. A large proportion of workplaces use private audiometric testing services to provide audiograms for their workers. No attempts have been made to aggregate these data to obtain national estimates on OHL. Many of these audiometric providers operate in multiple states and each provider generally has clients from across the industry spectrum that is subject to the OSHA hearing conservation program. We will recruit 10-15 of these providers to participate in this project. Selection will be made to ensure that audiometric test results are obtained from workplaces located throughout the country. We will develop a database and protocols to manage and analyze audiometric data furnished by these providers.



The data from these surveillance efforts will ultimately be used to: 1) measure the incidence and prevalence of OHL, 2) identify industrial sectors or workplaces with the highest levels of OHL or noise exposure and trends in OHL and noise exposure; 3) set research priorities; 4) guide workplace interventions to reduce noise exposure and OHL, and evaluate the effectiveness of intervention activities.



In the future the data can also be used to 5) identify emerging hearing loss problems, including those associated with a new industry, technology, or equipment; 6) identify previously unsuspected causes of OHL; 7) detect noncompliance with or gaps in noise regulation, and 8) assist employers in establishing polices and work practices to reduce OHL.



Objectives

1) This surveillance project will address a major gap in the NIOSH Hearing Loss Research Program, and address a primary recommendations of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

2) The audiometric data repository will be used to target and evaluate hearing loss prevention activities and will provide a foundation for future efforts for in-depth onsite studies targeting specific industry sectors and sub-sectors.

3) It will provide robust surveillance data to assess current hearing ability by industry and occupation, and will allow us to track changes in prevalence of OHL over time. This system will be able to identify the prevalence of STS and occupational hearing loss (OHL) across industry sectors at the 4-digit NAICS level, and among specific occupations within those industries.

This project will be evaluated by the number of publications.



Mission Relevance

Lack of surveillance data was a key shortcoming of the NIOSH Hearing Loss Research Program (HLRP) as determined by the National Academies Institute of Medicine (IOM). The IOM recommended that HLRP initiate national surveillance to track occupational hearing loss (OHL) and workplace noise exposure.

Audiometric testing is used to identify workers with OHL and those with elevated hearing thresholds but who donít meet the criteria for OHL. A large proportion of workplaces use private audiometric testing services to provide audiograms for their workers. No attempts have been made to aggregate these data to obtain national estimates on OHL. Many of these audiometric providers operate in multiple states and each provider generally has clients from across the industry spectrum that is subject to the OSHA hearing conservation program. We will recruit 10-15 of these providers to participate in this project. Selection will be made to ensure that audiometric test results are obtained from workplaces located throughout the country. We will develop a database and protocols to manage and analyze audiometric data furnished by these providers.

In response we propose a surveillance program that involves aggregating audiometric data from 10-15 audiometric providers to produce a national audiometric data repository. This proposal targets the construction, and manufacturing industry sectors because each of these sectors has identified the prevention of OHL as a major strategic goal.



Page last updated: June 3, 2011
Page last reviewed: May 23, 2011
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Office of the Director

 

NIOSH Program:

Manufacturing