Ann Work Expo Health. 2022 Nov 15;66(9):1151-1161. doi: 10.1093/annweh/wxac059.
OBJECTIVES: This study: (i) assessed the relationship between noise exposure and injury risk, comprehensively adjusting for individual factors, psychosocial stressors, and organizational influences; (ii) determined the relative importance of noise on injuries; (iii) estimated the lowest observed adverse effect level (LOAEL) of noise on injury risk to determine the threshold of noise considered hazardous to injuries; and (iv) quantified the fraction of injuries that could be attributed to hazardous noise exposure.
METHODS: In this cross-sectional study at 10 US surface mine sites, traditional mixed effects, Poisson regression, and boosted regression tree (BRT) models were run on the number of reported work-related injuries in the last year. The LOAEL of noise on injuries was identified by estimating the percent increase in work-related injuries at different thresholds of noise exposure using a counterfactual estimator through the BRT model. A population attributable fraction (PAF) was quantified with this counterfactual estimator to predict reductions in injuries at the LOAEL.
RESULTS: Among 18 predictors of work-related injuries, mine site, perceived job safety, age, and sleepiness were the most important predictors. Occupational noise exposure was the seventh most important predictor. The LOAEL of noise for work-related injuries was a full-shift exposure of 88 dBA. Exposure ≥88 dBA was attributed to 20.3% (95% CI: 11.2%, 29.3%) of reported work-related injuries in the last year among the participants.
CONCLUSIONS: This study further supports hypotheses of a dose-response relationship between occupational noise exposure and work-related injuries, and suggests that exposures ≥88 dBA may increase injury risk in mining.