Hearing Loss and Use of Hearing Protection Among Career Firefighters in the United States

Objective: To determine the prevalence and characteristics of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and the use of hearing protection devices (HPDs) among career firefighters. Methods: A Web-based survey and a standard audiometric test were performed with 425 firefighters from three states in the United States. Results: More than 40% showed hearing loss in the noise-sensitive frequencies (4 and 6 kHz). The left ear showed significantly poorer hearing than the right ear. Firefighters having longer years of work in fire services demonstrated significantly worse hearing. Reported use of HPDs was 34% of the time that was needed. Firefighters who used HPDs less were significantly more likely to have hearing loss. Conclusions: This study demonstrated a considerable NIHL problem and low use of HPDs in firefighters. More comprehensive hearing conservation programs should be implemented to reduce NIHL for firefighters.

Source : Hong, OiSaeng RN, FAAN; Chin, Dal Lae RN, ; Samo, Daniel G., Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, August 2013, vol. 55, no 8, p 960–965. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/JOM.0b013e318293aee0

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