Occupational Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention Efforts Can Protect Millions of Workers
The American Board of Industrial Hygiene® (ABIH®) reminds workers and industry to address noise hazards to help prevent debilitating hearing loss.
Hearing loss is often irreversible and although it can be caused by many factors, exposure to occupational noise and chemicals that are toxic to the ear should not be contributing factors.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. The agency reports that approximately 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work and an additional 9 million are exposed to chemicals that are toxic to the ear. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) lists the number of people exposed to hazardous noise at 30 million. The CDC estimates worker’s compensation for hearing loss disability costs $242 million annually in the United States.
Globally, occupational hearing loss continues to be one of the most common occupational hazards. A World Health Organization (WHO) report found that 16% of hearing loss can be attributed to occupational noise exposure.
Helping to protect workers from noise and hearing loss are Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs). CIHs are trained to identify hazards in work environments and industrial processes. This knowledge is instrumental in helping employers conduct comprehensive worksite analyses to identify noise hazards and chemicals that are toxic to the ear that could lead to hearing loss. CIHs are also trained to incorporate engineering and administrative controls, and implement hearing protection device (HPD) programs.
“Hearing loss is often irreversible and although it can be caused by many factors, exposure to occupational noise and chemicals that are toxic to the ear should not be contributing factors,” said Nicole Greeson, CIH® and Chair of ABIH®. “Today, we have the knowledge and tools to protect workers from hearing loss. Management’s support for hearing loss prevention efforts is essential, and the expertise of a CIH® to identify and resolve these occupational exposure risks is often a critical part of the solution.”
Noise and hearing loss prevention is just one of many core competencies that are part of the Certified Industrial Hygienist’s skillset that can help prevent and reduce occupational hearing loss. In addition to noise and hearing loss prevention and other core competencies, a CIH® must be proficient in his/her knowledge of chemical hazards, including those that are toxic to the ear, work environments and industrial processes to be awarded the prestigious credential.
To learn more about the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®, Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential or to locate a CIH® to perform industrial hygiene services, please visit www.ABIH.org, email abih@ABIH.org or call (517) 321-2638.
About the American Board of Industrial Hygiene ®
Since 1960, ABIH®, a not-for-profit corporation, has been the world’s largest, premier organization for certifying professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. ABIH® is responsible for ensuring high-quality certification including education, experience, examination, certification maintenance and ethics enforcement. Currently, more than 6800 people are certified to use the CIH® designation.
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