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Occupational health: recognizing and preventing work-related disease and injury, 4th edition. BS Levy, and DH Wegman, eds. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2000 Jan; :367-377
The connection between noise exposure and a decline in hearing ability has been known for centuries. Almost 2,000 years ago, Pliney the Elder noted that people living near noisy waterfalls exhibited an accelerated and progressive hearing loss (1). Ramazzini directed attention to noise as a workplace hazard by documenting cases of occupational deafness in the 1700s (2). Early workplace noise tended to be mostly intermittent impact noise from the pounding of metalworkers and carpenters and affected mostly those performing the hammering. The dawn of the Industrial Revolution introduced continuous noise to the workplace, and the effect on hearing extended beyond the workers operating the machine to all those in the area. Today, noise is the most prevalent workplace hazard in the world. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has estimated that more than 7.9 million manufacturing workers in the United States are occupationally exposed to noise greater than 80 dBA (3). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that more than 9 million U.S. workers in manufacturing are exposed to noise levels of 85 dBA or higher (4). Neither estimate included an additional 3 million workers employed in agriculture, mining, construction, transportation, or the federal government. More than 1 million workers in the U.S. manufacturing sector experience hearing loss from occupational noise, with half of them having moderate to severe hearing impairment (5). One worker in four exposed to 90 dBA noise over a working lifetime will develop a hearing loss that can be attributed to occupational noise exposure (6).
Noise; Noise-exposure; Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Hearing-loss; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Workers; Worker-health; Health-hazards; Noise-levels; Hearing-impairment
Book or book chapter
Occupational health: recognizing and preventing work-related disease and injury, 4th edition
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division