Am J Ind Med. 2022 Jan;65(1):30-40. doi: 10.1002/ajim.23305. Epub 2021 Oct 27.
BACKGROUND: Mining is a significant economic force in the United States but has historically had among the highest nonfatal injury rates across all industries. Several factors, including workplace hazards and psychosocial stressors, may increase injury and fatality risk. Mining is one of the noisiest industries; however, the association between injury risk and noise exposure has not been evaluated in this industry. In this ecological study, we assessed the association between noise exposure and nonfatal and fatal occupational injury rates among miners.
METHODS: Federal US mining accident, injury, and illness data sets from 1983 to 2014 were combined with federal quarterly mining employment and production reports to quantify annual industry rates of nonfatal injuries and fatalities. An existing job-exposure matrix for occupational noise was used to estimate annual industry time-weighted average (TWA, dBA) exposures. Negative binomial models were used to assess relationships between noise, hearing conservation program (HCP) regulation changes in 2000, year, and mine type with incidence rates of injuries and fatalities.
RESULTS: Noise, HCP regulation changes, and mine type were each independently associated with nonfatal injuries and fatalities. In multivariate analysis, each doubling (5 dB increase) of TWA was associated with 1.08 (95% confidence interval: 1.05, 1.11) and 1.48 (1.23, 1.78) times higher rate of nonfatal injuries and fatalities, respectively. HCP regulation changes were associated with 0.61 (0.54, 0.70) and 0.49 (0.34, 0.71) times lower nonfatal injury and fatality rates, respectively.
CONCLUSION: Noise may be a significant independent risk factor for injuries and fatalities in mining.