10 August 2021

High prevalence and risk of hearing loss in some service sectors

There is a higher prevalence of hearing loss among workers in many sub-sectors within the US service sector, a study finds.
High prevalence and risk of hearing loss in some service sectors

The prevalence of hearing loss among workers within the US service sector is 17% compared to 16% for all US industries combined, an American study finds.

In most of the service sub-sectors in the US, the estimated prevalence of hearing loss ranged from 11% to 20%, according to the study. But in some sub-sectors within the US service sector, the prevalence of hearing loss is much higher.

Higher prevalence in certain sub-sectors

Workers in the Administration of Housing Programs, Urban Planning and Community Development had the highest prevalence of hearing loss with a prevalence of 50%. Credit Intermediation and Related Activities had the second highest prevalence with 33%, followed by Administration of Economic Programs (28%) and Administration of Human Resource Programmes, both with a hearing loss prevalence of 28%. Six other sub-sectors in the service sector had a prevalence of hearing loss above 20%.

Gender and age

The study found that males were 2.5 times more likely to have hearing loss than females, with a hearing loss prevalence of 20% among men and 8% among women. The risk of hearing loss increased with age.

About the study

The purpose of the study was to investigate and compare the prevalence of hearing loss for noise exposed U.S. workers within the Services sector and sub-sectors using audiograms collected through the NIOSH OHL Surveillance Project.

In the study, audiograms for 1.9 million US workers from 2006 to 2015 were examined. The prevalence and adjusted risk for hearing loss as compared with a reference industry were estimated for the Services sector/sub-sectors and all industries combined.

Worker audiograms included thresholds at frequencies 500, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 6000 and 8000Hz. Hearing loss was defined as a pure-tone average threshold across frequencies 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 and 4,000Hz of 25 dB or more in either ear.

The study, “Prevalence of hearing loss among noise-exposed workers within the services sector, 2006–2015”, was published in the International Journal of Audiology.

Sources:  pmlegacy.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov and the International Journal of Audiology

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