The proportion of the population exposed to occupational noise was estimated using noise exposure data from the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), adjusted by data on the distribution of the work force by occupational category and economic sector, and economic activity rates in each WHO subregion. CONCLUSIONS: Occupational noise is a significant cause of adult-onset hearing loss. Exposure to excessive noise is one major cause of hearing disorders worldwide. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a major preventable occupational health problem with 250 million people worldwide known to have disabling impairment of moderate to greater severity.
When hearing loss occurs as a result of noise exposure it can lead to problems such as understanding others when they speak, particularly on the phone or in noisy environments. Research evidence is clear that occupational exposures to both chemicals and noise can cause a greater effect on hearing than either alone. Occupational noise causes 16 of disabling hearing loss. Worldwide, 16 of disabling hearing loss in adults is attributed to occupational noise. The damage caused by this continuous exposure to noise is irreversible but if exposure to the noise ends, the damage does not get any worse. At any age, disabling hearing impairment has a profound impact on interpersonal communication, psychosocial well-being, quality of life and economic independence.
Worldwide, 16 of disabling hearing loss in adults is attributed to occupational noise. Another Cochrane review has brought together evidence on the effectiveness of interventions to prevent occupational noise exposure and hearing loss. Action on Hearing Loss is currently campaigning to raise awareness of the dangers of hearing loss caused by loud music; more details can be found on their website. The major risk factor for occupational hearing loss is excessive noise on the job. The recommended exposure limits for occupational noise exposure around the world: 85 dB in most developed countries, and 90 dB in the many developing countries.