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November 06, 2017

Noise at work costs billions in lost earnings in the US

Many billions of dollars are lost in the US each year because of hearing loss caused by noise at work.

Noise at work costs billions in lost earnings in the US

Reducing the numbers of persons in the US who gets a noise-induced hearing loss at work by 10% would result in an estimated economic benefit in the US of around $60 billion annually. Reducing it by 20% would result in an economic benefit of around $120 billion.  These figures only include lost earnings.

The figures are calculated by researchers at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health, Ann Arbor in the US.

Only lost earnings

The economic benefit only consists of lost earnings among people with hearing loss caused by excessive noise exposure. The additional cost of hearing loss due to noise exposure including extra health care, special education, lost quality of life and caregivers etc. are not calculated and added in the study.

The calculations are based on earlier findings about unemployment, underemployment and lower wages among people with hearing loss compared to people with normal hearing. The total estimated costs of hearing loss related to noise at work on productivity was found to be $615 billion annually.

Fewer cases, more earnings

If the numbers of persons with work related noise-induced hearing losses could be reduced by 10% or 20% e.g. by increased use of hearing protection, this would result in increased earnings of around $60 or $120 billion annually, the study states.

In the study, the researchers estimated that 25% of the cases of hearing losses can be related to noise, and that half of these cases can be related to occupational noise. The rest of the cases of hearing loss caused by noise results from environmental and leisure noise.

The study “Economic Impact of Hearing Loss and Reduction of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in the United States” was published in Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research in January 2017.

Source: Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research

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