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LOGO: Occupational Hearing Loss Surveillance


Information about Partnering with NIOSH on this Project

Partner with us! The Occupational Hearing Loss (OHL) Surveillance Project is currently recruiting audiometric service providers to share de-identified individual level audiometric data and related information with NIOSH. Here are a few frequently asked questions:

What are the benefits for Project partners?

Partners will support vital hearing loss research, and will get a first look at Project research study results before they are released to the public. We also invite inquiries regarding assistance.

What kind of data is requested?

All data must be de-identified. However, a number or code is created and assigned to each worker by the provider. This code must remain consistent for the worker from year to year so that NIOSH can link all of the audiograms for each worker. The audiometric and related data requested for each audiogram include:

  • threshold values for frequencies 500, 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 6,000 and 8,000 Hertz
  • gender
  • date of birth
  • test date
  • date of hire (if available)
  • race (if available)
  • smoking status (if available)
  • occupation (job) information (if available)
  • industry information (if available)

How will the data be used?

The data that are collected will be added to a national repository for OHL surveillance and research. Analyses of these data will be used to:

  • measure the incidence and prevalence of OHL;
  • identify industrial sectors and sub-sectors with the highest and lowest prevalence of OHL;
  • measure OHL trends among and within industrial sectors and sub-sectors;
  • examine workplace factors related to OHL (e.g., industry characteristics, geographic region, etc.);
  • provide information to industries and the hearing loss research community to guide workplace interventions and research; and
  • establish baseline estimates to assist stakeholders in evaluating the effectiveness of hearing loss prevention efforts.

What happens when I become a Project partner?

A NIOSH representative will guide the provider through each step of the data sharing process. Here is a summary of the process:

NIOSH and the provider sign a data use agreement to protect the data and rights of both entities. Then the industry (e.g., construction, mining) for each audiogram is identified and assigned a North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. The provider decides whether the provider or NIOSH will assign these NAICS codes. The provider then merges the NAICS codes with the audiometric data so that a NAICS code is associated with each audiogram. The NIOSH representative assists the provider in securely transferring the de-identified electronic data to NIOSH. NIOSH may request additional data from the provider in future years. The process then begins again with assigning NAICS codes for new audiograms.

Are the names of Project partners released?

No, the names of providers who share their data with NIOSH will not be released unless NIOSH is compelled by law to reveal this information.

Is it legal for providers to share data with NIOSH?

Yes, the HIPAA Privacy Rule recognizes the legitimate need for public health authorities to have access to protected health information to carry out their public health mission. Accordingly, the HIPAA Privacy Rule permits covered entities to disclose protected health information, without authorization of the individual to whom the information pertains, to a public health authority, such as NIOSH, that is “. . . authorized by law to collect or receive such information for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease, injury or disability . . .” [See 45 CFR 164.512(b)(1)(i)].

How do I find out more?

Please contact Liz Masterson at or 513-841-4291.


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