Study: Mining, Oil and Gas Workers at Risk of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is prevalent in workers in the mining and oil and gas extraction sectors, researchers have found. At least 25% of workers in many industries and as much as 30% of workers in others had hearing loss, according to a recently published report.

Approximately 61% of all workers in mining and oil and gas extraction have been exposed to hazardous noise levels on the job. Certain chemical exposures in the industries also pose risks of hearing loss.

Prevalence of Hearing Loss Among Noise-Exposed Workers Within the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction Sectors, 2006–2015” appears in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Findings

In the mining sector, 24% of all noise-exposed workers had hearing loss. Workers in the construction sand and gravel mining industry had the highest prevalence of hearing loss at 36%, followed by

  • 31% of noise-exposed workers in uranium/radium/vanadium ore mining
  • 28% in bituminous coal and lignite surface mining
  • 27% in iron ore mining
  • 24% in copper ore and nickel ore mining

Noise-exposed workers in coal mining support activities had double the risk of hearing loss compared with couriers and messengers, a low-prevalence comparison industry. Noise-exposed workers in gold ore mining had a 71% higher risk of hearing loss than couriers and messengers.

In the oil and gas extraction industry sector, researchers found that

  • Overall, 14% of noise-exposed workers in the sector had hearing loss.
  • Within natural gas liquid extraction, 28% of noise-exposed workers had hearing loss and a 76% higher risk of hearing loss than couriers and messengers.

However, no data were available for two of the largest industries—crude petroleum and natural gas extraction and drilling oil and gas wells, indicating a need for more worker surveillance.

The study is the first to examine hearing loss prevalence and risk by industry within the mining and oil and gas extraction sectors. Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Taft Laboratory in Cincinnati, Ohio, conducted the latest study.

Read the full story here.

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