Hearing Impairment among Construction Workers: Occupational Hearing Loss Dataset

Abstract No:


Abstract Type:

Professional Poster 


R Katz1


1CPWR- The Center to Protect Worker's Rights, Silver Spring, MD


Rebecca Katz  
CPWR- The Center to Protect Worker's Rights


The purpose of this study is to examine construction worker audiogram results to better understand the nature of hearing loss among construction workers.

Situation / Problem:

Construction workers are usually exposed to hazardous levels of noise and are at a heightened risk for noise-induced hearing loss. In terms of disability-adjusted life years, construction has a higher burden of hearing impairment than all industries on average, and the third highest after Mining and Agriculture.


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has compiled results from audiograms (2003 - 2012) for employees who were exposed to high levels of noise at work, into the Occupational Hearing Loss Dataset (OHLD). Data from construction workers (NAICS 23) were analyzed to better understand the state of hearing loss in construction. Hearing loss was defined as an average threshold of at least 20 dBA across 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 4,000 HZ in the better ear, as per the CDC study on the same dataset. Descriptive statistics and chi-square tests were conducted to measure the differences across industry sector, gender, age, and hearing threshold using SAS 9.4.

Results / Conclusions:

Overall, 15.1% of construction workers in the database had at least some hearing loss. This is significantly higher than the prevalence (11.7%) among all other industries. This analysis found that nearly half of tested workers ages 56-65 had at least some hearing impairment. Additionally, hearing loss was more common among men, older workers, and those working in the Heavy and Civil Engineering sector. The findings suggest that to prevent noise-induced hearing loss, testing programs should be implemented earlier among workers with high noise exposures. This is especially important given the growing risk of hearing loss among older workers and the increasingly aging workforce in the construction industry. It is also important to increase awareness of noise hazards through Hazard Alert Cards, Toolbox Talks, tools like the NIOSH sound level meter app, etc. Moreover, it is essential that employers provide necessary protections to workers who are potentially exposed to high levels of noise.

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Acknowledgements and References

List any additional people who worked on the project or provided guidance and support along with details on the role they played in the research. (Please include first name, last name, organization, city, state and country).

Sue Dong, DrPH (Data Center Director, CPWR, Silver Spring, MD) provided guidance and advice on finding a dataset and on scope and direction. Wen Wang, PhD (Senior Research Associate, CPWR, Silver Spring, MD) provided assistance with analysis and editing.

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