Across nine noisy industries, 1 in 8 workers—or 13 percent—have hearing loss, according to Friday’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In the study, led by Elizabeth Masterson at the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a team of researchers analyzed nearly 1.5 million audiograms. The mining industry showed the highest incidence of hearing loss at 17 percent, with construction and manufacturing close behind.
Several news outlets have picked up a HealthDay article on the report, in which reporter E.J. Mundell quotes experts on how easily companies can prevent this type of hearing loss among employees. One of the quoted experts is ASHA member Katrien Vermeire, an audiologist and director of hearing and speech at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York.
“Noise-induced hearing loss is almost entirely preventable,” Vermeire says in the article. “Make sure to wear hearing protection devices—such as earplugs or earmuffs—when you are involved in loud activities, either at work or when involved in noisy recreational activities.” Vermeire also recommends anyone exposed to loud and/or constant noise at work receive annual hearing tests to identify changes early and prevent further hearing loss.
The CDC report does list several caveats regarding the findings: For instance, it notes that hearing does typically decline as people age and cautions against inferring that occupational noise exposure necessarily causes the high rate of hearing loss for workers in these industries.