Prevalence of hearing loss among noise-exposed workers within the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction sectors, 2006-2015

Background: The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence of hearing loss (HL) among noise‐exposed US workers within the Mining, and Oil and Gas Extraction (OGE) sectors.
Methods: Audiograms of 1.9 million workers across all industries (including 9389 in Mining and 1076 in OGE) from 2006 to 2015 were examined. Prevalence and adjusted risk as compared to a reference industry (Couriers and Messengers) were estimated for all industries combined and the Mining and OGE sectors and subsectors.
Results: The prevalences of HL in Mining and OGE were 24% and 14%, respectively, compared with 16% for all industries combined. Many Mining and one OGE subsector exceeded these prevalences and most had an adjusted risk (prevalence ratio) significantly greater than the reference industry. Some subsectors, particularly in OGE, could not be examined due to low sample size. The prevalences in Construction Sand and Gravel Mining and Natural Gas Liquid Extraction were 36% and 28%, respectively. Workers within Support Activities for Coal Mining had double the risk of HL than workers in the reference industry.
Conclusions: The many subsectors identified with high prevalences and/or worker risks for HL well above risks in the reference industry need critical attention to conserve worker hearing and maintain worker quality of life. Administrative and engineering controls can reduce worker hazardous noise exposures. Noise and ototoxic chemical exposure information is needed for many subsectors, as is audiometric testing results for OGE workers. Additional research is also needed to further characterize exposures and improve hearing conservation measures.

Source: Lawson, S. M., Masterson, E. A. et Azman, A. S. (2019). American journal of industrial medicine.

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