Noise and Occupational Hearing Loss

Overall Statistics – All U.S. Industries

Noise Exposure and Hearing Protection

  • About 25% of all workers have been exposed to hazardous noise, with 14% (22 million) exposed in the last year.1
  • 53% of noise-exposed workers report not wearing hearing protection.2

Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

  • Approximately 12% of all workers have hearing difficulty.1
  • About 8% of all workers have tinnitus.3
  • About 16% of noise-exposed tested workers have a material hearing impairment.4 Hearing impairment is hearing loss that impacts day-to-day activities.
  • 13% of noise-exposed tested workers have hearing impairment in both ears.5

Trends in Hearing Loss Among Noise-Exposed Tested Workers (1981-2010)6

  • The prevalence for all industries combined decreased less than 1% over 30 years (1981-2010).
  • The incidence for all industries combined decreased 2% over 25 years (1986-2010).
  • The adjusted risk for all industries combined decreased 46% over 25 years (1986-2010).


  1. Kerns E, Masterson EA, Themann CL, Calvert GM. (2018). Cardiovascular conditions, hearing difficulty and occupational noise exposure within U.S. industries and occupations. American Journal of Industrial Medicine61, 477-491.
  2. Green DR, Masterson EA, Themann CL. (in press). Prevalence of hearing protection device non-use among noise-exposed U.S. workers in 2007 and 2014. American Journal of Industrial Medicine.
  3. Masterson EA, Themann CL, Luckhaupt SE, Li J. & Calvert GM. (2016). Hearing difficulty and tinnitus among U.S. workers and non-workers in 2007. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 59, 290-300.
  4. Lawson SM, Masterson EA & Azman AS. (in press). Prevalence of hearing loss among noise-exposed workers within the Mining, and Oil and Gas Extraction Sectors, 2006-2015. American Journal of Industrial Medicine.
  5. Masterson EA, Bushnell PT, Themann CL, & Morata TC. (2016). Hearing impairment among noise-exposed workers — United States, 2003–2012. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65(15), 389-394.
  6. Masterson EA, Deddens JA, Themann CL, Bertke S. & Calvert GM. (2015). Trends in worker hearing loss by industry sector, 1981-2010. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 58, 392-401.