New research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) shows that noise-exposed service workers are at an increased risk of developing hearing loss. This is significant, as the Services sector is the largest sector in U.S. industry.
What Constitutes the Services Sector?
The Services sector consists of a wide range of services, including newspaper, music and software publishing; renting and leasing; financial transactions; legal advice and representation; management of governmental programs; security and surveillance; educational training; entertainment and recreation; accommodations and food service; machinery repairing; dry cleaning and laundry; and landscaping.
The Mining, Construction and Manufacturing sectors are recognized as having high percentages of workers exposed to hazardous noises, and are therefore at the greatest risk. The purpose of the recent study was to determine other sub-sectors within the Services sector that are also at a high risk.
About the Study
The study was published last month in the International Journal of Audiology. Researchers examined the audiograms of 1.9 million noise-exposed workers across all industries, over 158,000 of which were from Services workers.
They found that…
- The prevalence of hearing loss within the Services sector was 17 percent. (The prevalence for all sectors combined was 16 percent.)
- Many sub-sectors of the service industry exceeded overall prevalence by large percentages (10-33 percent higher).
- The highest prevalence was among workers in the Administration of Urban Planning and Community and Rural Development (50 percent).
- Workers in Solid Waste Combustors and Incinerators had more than double the risk, and was highest of any sub-sector.
- Some “low-risk” sub-sectors also had higher than expected prevalences. (Custom Computer Programming Services: 35 percent, Elementary and Secondary Schools: 26 percent).
What Are the Risk-Factors for Hearing Loss?
Workers exposed to hazardous noise levels or ototoxic chemicals are especially prone to occupational hearing loss. Hazardous noise exposure has also been associated with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Hearing loss often co-occurs with tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and has been linked to depression and cognitive decline. For more information about occupational hearing loss or to schedule an appointment for a hearing test or custom noise protection, call the experts at the House Institute Hearing Health Centers today!