2014-08-01 12:00 - Messages

Association between ambient noise exposure, hearing acuity, and risk of acute occupational injury

Objective: This study aimed to examine the associations between acute workplace injury risk, ambient noise exposure, and hearing acuity, adjusting for reported hearing protection use.
Methods: In a cohort of 9220 aluminum manufacturing workers studied over six years (33 300 person-years, 13 323 person-jobs), multivariate mixed effects models were used to estimate relative risk (RR) of all injuries as well as serious injuries by noise exposure category and hearing threshold level (HTL) adjusting for recognized and potential confounders.
Results: Compared to noise <82 dBA, higher exposure was associated with elevated risk in a monotonic and statistically significant exposure–response pattern for all injuries and serious injuries with higher risk estimates observed for serious injuries [82–84.99 dBA: RR 1.26, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.96–1.64; 85–87.99 dBA: RR 1.39, 95% CI 1.05–1.85; ≥88 dBA: RR 2.29, 95% CI 1.52–3.47]. Hearing loss was associated with increased risk for all injuries, but was not a significant predictor of risk for the subset of more serious injuries. Compared to those without hearing loss, workers with HTL ≥25 dB had 21% increased all injury risk (RR 1.21, 95% CI 1.09–1.33) while those with HTL 10–24.99 dB had 6% increased risk (RR 1.06, 95% CI 1.00–1.13). Reported hearing protection type did not predict injury risk.
Conclusion: Noise exposure levels as low as 85 dBA may increase workplace injury risk. HTL was associated with increased risk for all, but not the subset of serious, injuries. Additional study is needed both to confirm the observed associations and to explore causal pathways.

Source: Cantley LF, Galusha D, Cullen MR, Dixon-Ernst C, Rabinowitz PM, Neitzel RL. Scand J Work Environ Health, 2014.

Buy Quiet Update

Several years ago NIOSH started the planning process for a “buy quiet” initiative to encourage companies to purchase or rent quieter machinery and tools to reduce worker noise exposure. This initiative also aimed to provide information on equipment noise levels and promote manufacturers to design quieter equipment. NIOSH is now pleased to announce the official launch of our Buy Quiet web resources, complete with a website and educational materials. The new, easy to use materials highlight the benefits of a Buy Quiet program, explain how to establish a program in a workplace, and provide additional resources for finding quieter tools and machinery.

Source: http://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2014/08/07/buyquiet2/

Predicting and controlling risks from human exposures to vibration and mechanical shock

Flag waving and flag weaving
At work or in leisure activities, many people are exposed to vibration or mechanical shocks associated with risks of injury or disease. This paper identifies information that can be used to decide whether there may be a risk from exposure to hand-transmitted vibration or whole-body vibration and shock, and suggests actions that can control the risks. The complex and time-varying nature of human exposures to vibration and shock, the complexity of the different disorders and uncertainty as to the mechanisms of injury and the factors influencing injury have prevented the definition of dose-response relationships well proven by scientific study. It is necessary to wave a flag indicating when there is a need to control risks from exposure to vibration and shock while scientific enquiry provides understanding needed to weave a better flag. It is concluded that quantifying exposure severity is often neither necessary nor sufficient to either identify risks or implement measures that control the risks.Practitioner Summary: The identification of risks associated with exposure to vibration and mechanical shock cannot, and need not, rely solely on the quantification of exposure severity. Qualitative methods can provide a sufficient indication of the need for control measures, which should not be restricted to reducing standardised measures of exposure severity.

Source: Griffin MJ. Ergonomics, 2014.

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