Common Hearing Loss in Older and Retired Construction Workers: Study | 2022-08-24

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Silver Spring, MD—A recent study of older, retired construction workers shows that more than half suffer from hearing loss – and the risk increases with age.

Researchers from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training at Duke University and the University of Maryland studied data from more than 21,000 participants in the Building Trades Medical Screening Program, or BTMed, to assess the risk of hearing loss. Participants, who reported cases of tinnituspreviously worked at the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons facilities.

Overall, 55.2% of participants suffered from hearing loss, which was seen more in men (57.7%) than in women (26.8%). Participants were 40% more likely to develop hearing loss than non-construction workers.

The trades most associated with hearing loss were boilermakers (65.8%) and carpenters (65.3%), while boilermakers had the highest frequency of tinnitus, at 64.3%.

In addition, the results show that almost 95% of former construction workers over the age of 85 have hearing loss.

The prevalence of hearing loss and tinnitus was found to be higher than in previous research, the researchers note, largely because BTMed follows participants after they retire.

“To draw conclusions about the risk of chronic work-related diseases and disorders, it is important to monitor workers throughout their lives,” the researchers write. “Furthermore, tinnitus itself should be of greater importance. These findings reinforce the need to promote noise reduction and hearing conservation in construction.”

The study was published online in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

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