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.
Elizabeth A. Masterson, PhD, CPH, COHC, NIOSH, Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1090 Tusculum Avenue, MS-R17, Cincinnati, OH 45226
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