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Prevalence of Hearing Loss in the United States by Industry, 2000-2008

May 2014
NIOSH Dataset SD-1001-2014-0


Background: Twenty-two million workers are exposed to hazardous noise in the United States. The purpose of this study is to estimate the prevalence of hearing loss among U.S. industries.

Methods: We examined 2000–2008 audiograms for male and female workers ages 18–65, who had higher occupational noise exposures than the general population. Prevalence and adjusted prevalence ratios (PRs) for hearing loss were estimated and compared across industries.

Results: In our sample, 18% of workers had hearing loss. When compared with the Couriers and Messengers industry sub-sector, workers employed in Mining (PR = 1.65, CI = 1.57–1.73), Wood Product Manufacturing (PR = 1.65, CL = 1.61– 1.70), Construction of Buildings (PR = 1.59, CI = 1.51–1.68), and Real Estate and Rental and Leasing (PR = 1.61, CL = 1.51–1.71) had higher risks for hearing loss.

Conclusions: Workers in the Mining, Manufacturing, and Construction industries need better engineering controls for noise and stronger hearing conservation strategies. More hearing loss research is also needed within traditional ‘‘low-risk’’ industries like Real Estate.

Data Collection Methods

De-identified audiometric data for male and female workers were collected from audiometric testing service providers and an occupational health clinic. NIOSH recruited these data providers to participate in the OHL Surveillance Project at conferences, via letter and e-mail, and over the phone.

In most or all cases, the audiograms were from workers who were exposed to hazardous noise levels on the job (≥85 dBA) and were tested to comply with government regulations or safety recommendations. The dataset for this paper included audiograms for the years 2000 through 2008. The industry for each audiogram was coded by either the data provider or NIOSH using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). A more detailed description of the study and data exclusions can be found in the published article.

Publications Based on Dataset

Masterson EA, Tak S, Themann CL, Wall DK, Groenewold MR, Deddens JA, Calvert GM [2013]. Prevalence of hearing loss in the United States by industry. Am J Ind Med 56(6):670-81.

Acknowledgement when Publishing Dataset Analyses

This project was supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). When a publication makes use of this dataset, acknowledgement of the development of the dataset should be attributed to the NIOSH Division of Field Studies and Engineering.


NIOSH/Division of Field Studies and Engineering
Health Informatics Branch