Prevalence of Workers With Shifts in Hearing by Industry: A Comparison of OSHA and NIOSH Hearing Shift Criteria
Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare the prevalence of workers with National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health significant threshold shifts (NSTS), Occupational Safety and Health Administration standard threshold shifts (OSTS), and with OSTS with age correction (OSTS-A), by industry using North American Industry Classification System codes.
Methods: From 2001 to 2010, worker audiograms were examined. Prevalence and adjusted prevalence ratios for NSTS were estimated by industry. NSTS, OSTS, and OSTS-A prevalences were compared by industry.
Results: Twenty percent of workers had an NSTS, 14% had an OSTS, and 6% had an OSTS-A. For most industries, the OSTS and OSTS-A criteria identified 28% to 36% and 66% to 74% fewer workers than the NSTS criteria, respectively.
Conclusions: Use of NSTS criteria allowing for earlier detection of shifts in hearing is recommended for improved prevention of occupational hearing loss.