NIOSH Hearing Tests Show
Widespread Hearing Loss
Among Tri-Fund Attendees
Two hundred and fifty-five attendees at Tri-Fund Conference had their hearing tested courtesy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The results are sobering, but not surprising.
Those tested ranged from 27.3 to 78.5 years old (except for one teenager) with an average age of 51.6 years old. There were 227 men tested and 28 women.
Using the NIOSH 1998 criteria for defining hearing loss, 39 percent of the men had a significant loss and 11 percent of the women. Twenty-eight percent of the men had a hearing loss that OSHA would require be recorded on the employer’s log of injuries and illnesses. And 90% of those tested had at least a 25 decibel loss in at least one frequency. Forty year-olds had a significant loss above 3000 Hertz, while in fifty year-olds the loss was very significant (40-45 decibel loss in the upper frequencies). The sixty and seventy year-olds had an even greater amount of hearing loss (see the graph below). Hearing loss increased with age. Looking at males only, twenty year-olds had no hearing loss. Thirty year olds had a minor hearing loss (15-20 decibels).
These results demonstrate that laborers as young as 50 years old have significant hearing loss which can affect their quality of life. All the more reason for us to move forward with our push for quieter sites and to prevent hearing loss among our members.