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Trends in Worker Hearing Loss by Industry Sector, 1981-2010

December 2019
NIOSH Dataset SD-1003-2019-0


Background: The purpose of this study was to estimate the incidence and prevalence of hearing loss for noise-exposed U.S. workers by industry sector and 5-year time period, covering 30 years.

Methods: Audiograms for 1.8 million workers from 1981-2010 were examined. Incidence and prevalence were estimated by industry sector and time period. The adjusted risk of incident hearing loss within each time period and industry sector as compared with a reference time period was also estimated.

Results: The adjusted risk for incident hearing loss decreased over time when all industry sectors were combined. However, the risk remained high for workers in Healthcare and Social Assistance, and the prevalence was consistently high for Mining and Construction workers.

Conclusions: While progress has been made in reducing the risk of incident hearing loss within most industry sectors, additional efforts are needed within Mining, Construction and Healthcare and Social Assistance.

Data Collection Methods

De-identified audiometric data for male and female workers were collected from audiometric testing service providers and others. 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 1981 through 2010. 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, Deddens JA Themann CL, Bertke S, Calvert GA. (2015). Trends in worker hearing loss by industry sector, 1981–2010. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 58: 392-401.


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 Occupational Hearing Loss Surveillance Program, Division of Field Studies and Engineering.


NIOSH/Division of Field Studies and Engineering
Health Informatics Branch