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September 25, 2018

High prevalence of hearing loss within the forestry and logging industry

People who work with forestry and logging are at a high risk of an occupational hearing loss, a study finds.

High prevalence of hearing loss within the forestry and logging industry

If you work with forestry and logging and especially within the sector Forest Nurseries and Gathering of Forest Products or within the sector Timber Tract Operations, you are at a high risk of an occupational hearing loss, an American study finds.

Risk sectors

Among workers in the sector Forest Nurseries and Gathering of Forest Products, the study found a hearing loss prevalence of 36%. Within the sector Timber Tract Operations, the prevalence of hearing loss was 22%.  Also, people who worked with fishing and in the Animal Production sectors: Aquaculture and Cattle Ranching and Farming had a high prevalence of hearing loss of around 19%.

In general, within the forestry and logging industry more than 21% of the workers had a hearing loss. The average prevalence within the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting sector (AFFH sector) was 15%, according to the study.

Risk increased with age

The risk of hearing loss increased substantially as workers aged, the study found. There was twice the risk of workers having hearing loss in the 26-35 age-group than in the 18-25 age-group. This jumped to almost 24 times the risk in the 66-75 age-group compared to the 18-25 age-group.

An occupational hearing loss is normally caused by excessive exposure to noise and is therefore typically a noise-induced hearing loss. Noise is one of the major causes of hearing loss. The other major cause is ageing, resulting in an age-related hearing loss. Both are a so-called sensorineural hearing loss due to damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear.

About the study

The study examined the audiograms of 1.4 million US workers from 2003 to 2012, of which 17,299 were from the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting sector (AFFH).  The study “Prevalence of hearing loss among noise-exposed works within the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sector, 2003 – 2012” was published in American Journal of Industrial Medicine in 2018.

Source: American Journal of Industrial Medicine

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