OCCUPATIONAL HEARING LOSS (OHL) SURVEILLANCE
In 2006, the National Academy of Sciences identified the lack of hearing loss surveillance as a key shortcoming of the NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention Research Program. Surveillance is vital to occupational hearing loss (OHL) prevention. It makes possible the establishment of estimates for the prevalence and incidence of hearing loss within various industries. Surveillance also enables NIOSH to identify high risk groups, guide prevention and research efforts, and evaluate the success or failure of interventions. Without surveillance data, progress in hearing loss prevention efforts cannot be quantified, nor the need for improvement in these efforts.
In 2009, the NIOSH OHL Surveillance Project commenced to develop a national surveillance system for OHL. The Project uses a novel approach for data collection by partnering with audiometric service providers and others to collect de-identified worker audiograms and related data. This approach has allowed NIOSH to collect millions of de-identified audiograms from thousands of workplaces across the United States while protecting the identities of workers, companies and providers. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is used to classify the industry associated with each audiogram. Data collection, statistical analyses and dissemination of research results are ongoing.
As of 2014, NIOSH has partnered with 18 data providers. Over 10.4 million private sector audiograms of varying quality with related demographic data have been collected and added to a national repository for OHL surveillance data. The dataset from our first published article can be downloaded here. NIOSH also partnered with the United States Air Force beginning in late 2014 to study hearing loss at it relates to military occupations and noise and chemical exposures on the job.
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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