Noise News: Link to Traumatic Injuries Explored

BALTIMORE -- A May 23 session at AIHce 2016 focused on noise exposure measurements and highlighted some very large data sets being utilized to understand excessive exposures in U.S. worker populations, including miners, military personnel, and industrial workers. Some of the most eye-opening presentations concerned noise's link to traumatic injuries and also to illnesses.

Rick Neitzel, Ph.D., CIH, FAIHA, outlined a job exposure matrix he and colleagues have created for American and Canadian workers exposed occupational lay to noise. He explained that so far, their data show average noise exposures above the OSHA PEL dropped sharply after 1979 but have not fallen since about 2000. There is no strong downward trend shown in noise levels, said Neitzel, adding he and his colleagues are trying to make their data publicly accessible. He noted their is an increasing amount of data linking noise exposure to diabetes.

Ben Roberts, MPH, a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, discussed how their matrix has revealed noise exposures by miners, for whom hazardous noise is a significant hazard. Electricians, laborers, and material movers are among the worker groups in mining with high exposures, he said.

Dr. Cheryl Estill, a NIOSH industrial hygiene supervisor, discussed an analysis of Ohio workers' noise exposure as found by Ohio BWC consultation visits. Noise exposure was significantly related to trauma claims by company, she reported, and neurotoxic chemical exposure above the OSHA PEL was somewhat related to trauma claims by company. She cautioned that comp claims may underrepresent actual injuries.

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