A new study from NIOSH says many workers still don’t use hearing protection devices (HPD) when exposed to noise on the job – and that includes some industries you might not expect.
Among all noise-exposed workers, 53% said they didn’t use HPD “always” or “usually.”
NIOSH researchers found some of the highest rates of HPD non-use among exposed workers were in industries where fewer workers overall are exposed to loud noise, such as Finance and insurance.
The study recommends:
- targeted attention to workers exposed to loud noise in these industries
- employers provide an assortment of HPDs tailored to noise level and type, workplace environment, communication and audibility needs, and individual comfort and convenience.
Industries with the highest HPD non-use include:
- Accommodation and Food Services (90%)
- Health Care and Social Assistance (83%)
- Education Services (82%)
- Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting (74%), and
- Construction (52%).
Gender and age are factors
Researchers also found women, workers ages 18-25 and current smokers had a significantly higher rate of HPD non-use. These results are consistent with results in previous studies.
Dr. Elizabeth Masterson, research epidemiologist and study co-author, recommends:
- increasing worker awareness about proper, consistent HPD use
- increasing worker training about HPD use
- removing barriers to HPD use by ensuring workers have HPD that’s comfortable and doesn’t overprotect from noise so they can hear speech and other important workplace signals.
The study measured responses to surveys from 39,508 adult workers and was published online Oct. 1, 2021, in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.