Impact of OSHA Final Rule—Recording Hearing Loss: An Analysis of an Industrial Audiometric Dataset


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Abstract

The 2003 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Final Rule changed the definition of recordable work-related hearing loss. We performed a study of the Alcoa Inc. audiometric database to evaluate the impact of this new rule. The 2003 rule increased the rate of potentially recordable hearing loss events from 0.2% to 1.6% per year. A total of 68.6% of potentially recordable cases had American Academy of Audiology/American Medical Association (AAO/AMA) hearing impairment at the time of recordability. On average, recordable loss occurred after onset of impairment, whereas the non-age-corrected 10-dB standard threshold shift (STS) usually preceded impairment. The OSHA Final Rule will significantly increase recordable cases of occupational hearing loss. The new case definition is usually accompanied by AAO/AMA hearing impairment. Other, more sensitive metrics should therefore be used for early detection and prevention of hearing loss.

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