Hearing Loss Prevention Program

Worker with protective headphone at man hands at industrial factory

The Hearing Loss Prevention Cross-Sector Research Program provides national and world leadership to reduce the prevalence of occupational hearing loss due to exposure to hazardous noise and ototoxic substances (chemical, pharmaceutical, metals). Through research and surveillance, the Program develops best practices and interventions, including engineering noise controls and personal protective equipment.

Featured Items

NIOSH Noise: A 50-Year Timeline of Research and Intervention
This NIOSH Science Blog looks back over five decades of research and recommendations for preventing occupational hearing loss. Some early recommendations are still in place today. Others have been updated as new information and better technologies have become available. The NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention Program remains committed to its vision that every occupational noise-exposed worker in the U.S. will benefit from NIOSH knowledge and technology.

Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award
This award recognizes and disseminates stories of real-world successful hearing loss prevention efforts. NIOSH and its partners, the National Hearing Conservation Association and the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation, presented the 2022 awards to winners in the manufacturing and music industries. The efforts of the Safe-in-Sound winners from the music industry contributed to the 2022 World Hearing Day campaign “To hear for life, listen with care!”, hosted by the World Health Organization.

Cross-Sector Description

Occupational noise exposure affects millions of workers in a wide range of industrial sectors such as manufacturing, services, construction, mining and others. NIOSH is the primary federal agency doing research on occupational hearing loss, the factors which cause it, and methods of preventing it. NIOSH recommends removing hazardous noise from the workplace whenever possible, implementing administrative controls, and using hearing protectors in those situations where dangerous noise exposures have not yet been controlled or eliminated. The Hearing Loss Prevention Cross-Sector Research Program contributes research results, policy recommendations, technical information for occupational health professionals, and dissemination of practical information to the public. These include:

  • Identifying hearing loss risk factors among workers and potential mitigation strategies
  • Synthesizing evidence to facilitate the adoption of evidence-based hearing loss prevention interventions
  • Developing and supporting the commercialization and implementation of noise control solutions on jobsites in key industries
  • Developing solutions to reduce noise and ototoxic chemical exposures among workers
  • Improving occupational hearing loss surveillance
Research Priorities

The Hearing Loss Prevention Cross-Sector Research Program has selected research priorities on the basis of burden, need, and impact and collaborated with other NIOSH research programs to write the research goals in the NIOSH Strategic Plan for FYs 2019-2024. The priority areas of hearing loss research include:

  • Promoting the adoption of engineering controls and hearing loss education in the Construction sector
  • Reducing exposure to hazardous noise and ototoxic chemicals, and promoting hearing less education in the Manufacturing sector
  • Improving engineering controls and hearing loss surveillance in the Mining sector
  • Reducing exposure to hazardous noise and ototoxic chemicals in the Oil and Gas Extraction sector
  • Reducing exposure to hazardous noise in the Services

The Hearing Loss Prevention Program Performance One-Pager (PPOP) offers a snapshot of recent NIOSH programs’ priorities, strategies used to make progress towards priorities, recent accomplishments, and upcoming work.

The PPOP is the best reference for a few selected recent accomplishments. Two additional recent accomplishments are below.

In 2021 the NIOSH Sound Level Meter (NIOSH SLM) app surpassed 1.5 million downloads, becoming the most downloaded of the NIOSH apps. The app measures sound levels in the workplace and provides noise exposure parameters to help reduce occupational noise-induced hearing loss. The app has also been available in Spanish since 2019.

The Hearing Loss Prevention Cross-Sector Research Program is involved in a range of outreach activities to expand the access to the best evidence and tools for hearing loss prevention. These activities include using a variety of communication channels, a robust social media presence, recognition programs and health promotion and awareness campaigns. A couple of these efforts were highlighted in the January 6, 2022 NIOSH Science Blog titled The Most-viewed NIOSH Products of 2021.

To learn more

Resource and Topic Pages
More information on hearing loss prevention and useful resources can be found on the following topic pages:

The Hearing Loss Prevention Cross-Sector Research Program has contributed at least 45 NIOSH Science Blogs making Hearing Loss one the leading categories in the Blog collection.

NORA Council
The Program helps lead the NORA Hearing Loss Prevention Cross-Sector Council, which brings together individuals and organizations to share information, form partnerships, and promote adoption and dissemination of solutions that work. The Council seeks to facilitate the most important research, understand the most effective intervention strategies, and learn how to implement those strategies to achieve sustained improvements in workplace practice. The research agenda for the Hearing Loss Prevention Cross-Sector Council can be found here.

Contact the Hearing Loss Prevention Cross-Sector Research Program with any questions by emailing Elizabeth Masterson at emasterson@cdc.gov and/or Amanda Azman at aazman@cdc.gov.

Page last reviewed: April 12, 2022