IN THIS ISSUE: Do Your Employees Wear Their Hearing Protection?
In a recently published article by the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), it showed that more than 50 percent of workers did not wear their hearing protection devices (HPD) consistently. The study was published online on October 1, 2021 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.
The study looked at 39,508 adult current workers from their National Health Review Surveys from 2007 through 2014 and asked the participants about their HPD usage. There was no significant variation from year to year. Some industries with recognized high noise exposure had a high percentage of non-use including Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting (74%) and Construction (52%).
This study is significant because it explains why each year employees who are exposed to noise lose hearing. Each year about 22 million workers are exposed to high noise and over 11 percent of the working population has hearing difficulty. Nearly one out of four cases of worker hearing issues are caused by work-related exposures, according by NIOSH.
The study looked at the failure of employees to wear HPD, but did not consider all the workers who do not wear them properly. Both point to the conclusion that HPD alone cannot protect employees from exposure to hazardous noise. Despite best efforts in increasing worker awareness and providing training about the importance of proper and consistent use of HPDs, these efforts have failed.
As with most occupational hazards, the use of engineering controls is the best way to lessen or eliminate the hazard. Employers should identify sources of noise exposure and develop a plan and a budget to fix them. Only then, can there be a significant reduction in hearing loss.
OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.
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