Is your occupation at a higher risk for hearing loss? New data from NIOSH.

September 26, 2019

Hearing loss is one of the most common chronic physical conditions in the United States, ranked third behind hypertension and arthritis. 12% of the US working population experience hearing difficulty, and 58% of these cases are attributable to occupational noise exposure as reported by the National Center for Health Statistics.

This new study, Prevalence of Hearing Loss Among Noise-Exposed Workers within the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction Sectors, 2006-2015, released from the American Journal of Industrial Medicine in July found almost 1 in 3 workers in these industries exhibit hearing loss.

According to Elizabeth Masterson, PhD, epidemiologist and co-author of the study, “Occupational hearing loss is entirely preventable and knowing which workers are at greatest risk can help better tailor strategies to protect their hearing.”

The study aimed to highlight the large number of workers with hearing loss and pinpoint the industries where people are most affected. In total, the study looked at data from 1.9 million workers exposed to noise across several industries, including a portion from the mining, oil, and gas extraction industries. The prevalence of hearing loss was 24% for mining and 14% for oil and gas extraction, compared with 16% for all industries combined.

Despite high percentages of hearing loss, workers and employers can reduce risk by removing or reducing noise at the source when possible. If the noise cannot be adequately reduced, effective hearing conservation programs are essential. Some common methods to reduce exposure include rotating workers out of loud areas to lessen exposure time, using earplugs, and implementing specific engineering controls.

Want to learn more?

The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health is pleased to present Occupational Noise, Measurement, and Control on November 7-8, 2019. This hands-on workshop will provide an overview of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), identification of hazardous noise exposure, and strategies to reduce and mitigate noise exposure risk. Learners will also explore noise standards, the components of a quality Hearing Conservation Plan (HCP), and learn how to use measurement equipment such as sound level meters and dosimeters.

Click here to learn more and register.


Combined-Exposure-to-Noise-and-Ototoxic-Substances. Pdf. Accessed 3 Sept. 2019.

Lawson, Sean M., et al. “Prevalence of Hearing Loss among Noise-Exposed Workers within the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction Sectors, 2006-2015.” American Journal of Industrial Medicine, vol. 0, no. 0. Wiley Online Library, doi:10.1002/ajim.23031. Accessed 3 Sept. 2019.

Kerns, Ellen, and Elizabeth Masterson. “Workplace Noise: More than Just ‘All Ears.’” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 June 2018,

“Occupational Hearing Loss Is Both Common and Preventable.” Occupational Health & Safety, 30 Aug. 2019,

Pleis, John R., and Margaret Lethbridge-Cejku. Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2006: (403882008-001). American Psychological Association, 2007. Crossref, doi:10.1037/e403882008-001.