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December 2021

USA Study Finds Over Half of Noise-Exposed Workers Do Not Use Hearing Protection When Exposed to Noise on the Job

Non-use varied by industry and occupation, and was highest among women, young workers, and current smokers.

A new study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates that over half of noise-exposed workers didn’t use hearing protection “always” or “usually” when exposed to hazardous occupational noise. Hearing protection device (HPD) non-use was only measured in workers who reported exposure to noise on the job. The study external icon was published online October 1, 2021 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

An estimated 22 million workers in the United States face exposure to hazardous noise at work each year. While fewer workers are exposed to noise in industries like Finance and Insurance, and Healthcare and Social Assistance, NIOSH researchers found some of the highest prevalences of HPD non-use among the exposed workers in these industries. Additionally, researchers found female workers, young workers (aged 18-25), and current smokers had a significantly higher prevalence of HPD non-use.

“Our findings regarding HPD non-use by gender and age group are consistent with previous studies,” said Elizabeth Masterson, PhD, research epidemiologist and study co-author. “However, no prior relationship between smoking and HPD non-use has been reported. Our study was the first to find a significant association between current smoking and HPD non-use.”

The study looked at 39,508 adult current workers from the 2007 and 2014 National Health Interview Surveys. These surveys asked participants about their HPD use and occupational noise exposure within the past year. Of the workers surveyed, 2,057 reported exposure to occupational noise during the previous 12 months in 2007 and 3,380 in 2014. Overall, between 2007 and 2014, the prevalence of HPD non-use did not change significantly.

Among all workers exposed to noise in 2014, researchers found the majority (53%) did not wear hearing protection consistently. Industries with the highest HPD non-use among noise-exposed workers included Accommodation and Food Services (90%), Health Care and Social Assistance (83%), and Education Services (82%). Additionally, some of the industries where noise is a well-recognized hazard, were found to have high prevalences of HPD non-use, including Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting (74%) and Construction (52%).

“The prevalence of HPD non-use remains high. Increasing worker awareness and providing training about the importance of proper and consistent use of HPDs can protect workers from the effects of hazardous noise” said Dr Masterson. “In addition, we need to overcome barriers to HPD use by ensuring that workers have HPDs that are comfortable and do not overprotect from noise so they can hear speech and other important workplace signals.”

Visit the NIOSH website for more information about noise and hearing loss prevention research at NIOSH. For industry sector-specific statistics on hearing loss, noise exposure, and other information, please visit the Occupational Hearing Loss Surveillance webpage.

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ILO: The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the world of work

The pandemic’s impact on the world of work has been both devastating and far-reaching. It has:

As a result of all the above, exacerbated poverty as well as gender, economic and social inequality.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Working safely advice from the UK HSE

To help employers protect people at work the UK Health and Safety Executive has guidance on continuing to keep workplaces safe.

The latest GOV.UK guidance explains how you can stay safe and reduce the spread of COVID-19. It includes information on Plan B in England. Those who can work from home should do so.

Find the latest advice for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The brief guide for workers will help them prevent COVID-19 spreading at work and translations of this guidance are available.

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European Union: Marking one year of vaccination campaign, President von der Leyen thanks healthcare and frontline workers who kept us safe

On 27 December 2020, vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 started in many countries across the European Union. Marking the first year since then, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, in her video message, thanked to all who made that possible – from healthcare staff, to carriers, to frontline workers.

“The increase in the number of infections and in particular the rapid spread of Omicron make vaccination even more important. Vaccination, including booster shots, is our best protection currently”, President von der Leyen said.

She reminded there were enough doses for everyone to get vaccinated or to get a booster shot, and called upon citizens to continue to protect themselves and others.

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EU and US officials discuss efforts to donate and deliver 1.7 billion vaccine doses around the world by mid-2022

Senior European Commission officials met yesterday with senior White House and other U.S. government officials on progress and next steps towards achieving the US-EU Agenda for Beating the Global Pandemic Vaccinating the World, Saving Lives Now, and Building Back Better Health Security. Led by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s Head of Cabinet Björn Seibert, and US Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer, both sides agreed on the importance of the Transatlantic partnership and leadership to end the pandemic and strengthen global health security in the long term.

Following a briefing on the Omicron variant and recent developments by the Special Advisor to the President of the European Commission Dr Piot, the US Chief Medical Advisor Dr Fauci, the Director of the US Centers for Disease Control Dr Walensky, the two sides discussed a number of areas including: ongoing efforts to donate and deliver more than 1.7 billion vaccine doses around the world by mid-2022; accelerating efforts to get shots into arms, including assistance to countries in need; and other areas such as cooperating on COVID-19 supply chains, joint health threat assessments and R&D and more. The two delegations reiterated their call for stronger actions and commitments from nations around the world in this effort.

The delegations also underscored that bold action is needed to prepare for the next pandemic. Both sides agreed on the importance a Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) for global health security and pandemic preparedness with sustainable capitalization, and noted we will work with the EU member states, the G20, lower-middle income countries, World Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO), and additional organisations to accomplish this goal.

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