Do hearing protectors protect hearing?
Groenewold MR; Masterson EA; Themann CL; Davis RR
Am J Ind Med 2014 Sep; 57(9):1001-1010
Background: We examined the association between self-reported hearing protection use at work and incidence of hearing shifts over a 5-year period. Methods: Audiometric data from 19,911 workers were analyzed. Two hearing shift measures-OSHA standard threshold shift (OSTS) and high-frequency threshold shift (HFTS)-were used to identify incident shifts in hearing between workers' 2005 and 2009 audiograms. Adjusted odds ratios were generated using multivariable logistic regression with multi-level modeling. Results: The odds ratio for hearing shift for workers who reported never versus always wearing hearing protection was nonsignificant for OSTS (OR 1.23, 95% CI 0.92-1.64) and marginally significant for HFTS (OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.00-1.59). A significant linear trend towards increased risk of HFTS with decreased use of hearing protection was observed (P¼0.02). Conclusion: The study raises concern about the effectiveness of hearing protection as a substitute for noise control to prevent noise-induced hearing loss in the workplace.
Hearing-protection; Hearing; Hearing-conservation; Personal-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Audiometry; Auditory-system; Humans; Men; Women; Models; Workers; Work-environment; Work-areas; Risk-factors; Exposure-levels; Noise-control; Noise-protection; Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Surveillance-programs;
Author Keywords: noise; hearing protection; occupational hearing loss; noise-induced hearing loss
Matthew R.Groenewold, PhD, MSPH, 275 E.Main St.MSHS1-EJ, Frankfort, KY 40621
American Journal of Industrial Medicine