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Occupational noise exposure and noise-induced hearing loss are associated with work-related injuries leading to admission to hospital


Objective This study focuses on work-related injuries that required admission to hospital in a population of male workers exposed to occupational noise (≥80 dBA) which some displayed a hearing loss due to their exposure.

Methods The study population count 46 550 male workers, 1670 (3.6%) of whom incurred at least one work-related injury requiring admission to hospital within a period of 5 years following hearing tests conducted between 1987 and 2005. The noise exposure and hearing loss-related data were gathered during occupational noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) screening. The hospital data were used to identify all members of the study population who were admitted, and the reason for admission. Finally, access to the death-related data made it possible to identify participants who died during the course of the study. Cox proportional hazards model taking into account hearing status, noise levels, age and cumulative duration of noise exposure at the time of the hearing test established the risk of work-related injuries leading to admission to hospital.

Results For each dB of hearing loss, a statistically significant risk increase was observed (HR=1.01 dB 95% CI 1.006 to 1.01). An association (HR=2.36 95% CI 2.01 to 2.77) was also found between working in an occupational ambient noise ≥100 dBA and the risk of injury.

Conclusions From a safety perspective, this issue is highly relevant; especially when workers are exposed to intense ambient noise and NIHL.

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