Assessing Noise Exposures, Hearing, and Risk of Injuries Among Miners

Occupational injuries represent a tremendous health and economic burden to mine workers and their employers in the US and globally. However, despite this situation, a number of potential injury risk factors have not been adequately explored, including the risk of injury due to noise exposure, hearing loss (HL), and use of hearing protection devices (HPDs). Noise is ubiquitous in mining, and noise-induced HL is one of the most common occupational diseases among miners. Noise and HL may increase injury risk by decreasing situational awareness or ability to hear warning signals. HPD use essentially creates HL in normal-hearing workers and may exacerbate HL in hearing-impaired workers. The objective of our study is to evaluate the relationship between injuries and noise, HL, and HPD use among miners. The study has two specific aims: Specific Aim 1: We will retrospectively estimate the association between noise exposures and recordable injury risk among miners at a single large mining facility in Alpena, Michigan. Specific Aim 2: We will then assess 250 miners at the same large facility over a 15-month period to evaluate the workers’ risk of injuries and near misses (i.e., events that could have resulted in an injury) in relation to their noise exposures, hearing ability and use of HPDs. Subaim 2a: We will explore novel noise metrics for application to injury risk assessment. Adverse health effects from noise exposure, including both HL and injuries, represent a significant burden for workers across all sectors of mining, and the proposed study is needed to help elucidate the inter-relationships among these factors. The results of this innovative study may help guide interventions that could universally reduce noise exposures, hearing loss, and injuries among miners.


Posted on

November 27, 2019