Hearing Loss in American Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting Sectors

A new study from the USA involved investigation of hearing loss in workers in the Agriculture, Fishing, Forestry and Hunting (AFFH) sectors[i].  This is the first study to estimate prevalence and risk of hearing loss for sub-sectors within the AFFH sector[ii].

Audiograms from 1.4 million workers, of which 17,299 were in the AFHH sectors, were examined between 2003 and 2012. Over all sectors combined, the prevalence of hearing loss was 19%, and the prevalence among the AFFH sector overall was lower, at 15%.  However, some sub-sectors had higher prevalence of hearing loss, such as forest nurseries and gathering of forest products, with a prevalence of 36%, timber tract operations, with a prevalence of 22%, and fishing, with a prevalence of 19%.

While we found the overall prevalence of hearing loss in the AFFH sector to be less than all industries combined, which is 19 percent, our study shows there are many industries within the sector that have a large number of workers who have or are at high risk for hearing loss,’ said Elizabeth Masterson, PhD, epidemiologist and lead author of the study. ‘Workers in the high-risk industries identified in this study would benefit from continued hearing conservation efforts.[iii]


[i] Masterson, E. A., Themann, C. L. & Calvert, G. M. Prevalence of hearing loss among noise-exposed workers within the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sector, 2003-2012. Am J Ind Med 61, 42–50 (2018). http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajim.22792/abstract (Accessed 23 February 2018)

[ii] Study highlights prevalence of hearing loss among workers in agriculture, forestry, fishing industries. NIOSH Updates. 21 February 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-2-21-18.html (Accessed 23 February 2018)

[iii] Ibid