Elizabeth Masterson, PhD, CPH, COHC
Greetings from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)! Some new and exciting public health surveillance efforts for occupational hearing loss (OHL) have been underway and we would like to share our progress, future plans and the results from our first study. The NIOSH OHL Surveillance Project began in 2009 to establish a national repository for occupational hearing loss data and to conduct surveillance and research of this common occupational illness.
During this project we have partnered with 14 audiometric service providers (which we will refer to as providers) and collected nearly nine million audiograms, many of which were conducted before 2000, allowing for historical trends to be examined. None of the audiograms contain personal identifying information. We also developed quality assurance methods to identify and remove from analyses audiograms with quality deficiencies or hearing loss consistent with non-occupational exposures. These characteristics included unlikely threshold values, negative slope indicating excessive background noise during testing, and large inter-aural differences (>40 dB). The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) was used to identify the industry, and a NAICS code was assigned to each audiogram (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). NAICS codes can range from two-digit to six-digit numbers, and industry specificity increases with each digit.
Rest of article: http://www.caohc.org/updatearticles/fall2012/first-results.php