The service sector is the largest sector in U.S. industry. Unfortunately, this sector subjects a large number of workers to unsafe noise exposure, according to new research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The study on hearing loss in workers across the service industries was published this year in the International Journal of Audiology.
About the Study
NIOSH researchers examined 1.9 million audiograms of noise-exposed workers across all industries. This included 158,436 audiograms of service sector workers. (An audiogram is a visual representation that charts the results of a comprehensive hearing exam, indicating the lowest volume a person can hear sounds across the speech sound frequencies.)
Unsurprisingly, the construction, manufacturing and mining sectors were recognized as having a high percentage of workers exposed to hazardous noise levels, and therefore had a high risk of developing occupational hearing loss.
The prevalence of hearing loss across the service sector was 17%, just over the prevalence of hearing loss across all industries combined, which was 16%. However, many subsectors greatly exceeded the overall prevalence, being 10-33% higher.
People who worked in administration of urban planning and community and rural development had the highest prevalence of hearing loss at 50%, and people who worked with solid waste combustors and incinerators had the highest risk of any subsector.
Surprisingly, even subsectors viewed as low-risk had higher than expected prevalences and risks for hearing loss, including custom computer programming services (35%) and secondary schools (26%).
What Jobs Are in the Service Sector?
The service sector subsumes a wide variety of industries, including:
- Accommodations and food service
- Dry cleaning and laundry
- Educational training
- Entertainment and recreation
- Financial transactions
- Legal advice and representation
- Machinery repair
- Newspaper, music and software publishing
- Overseeing and managing governmental programs
- Renting and leasing
- Security and surveillance
Risks of Developing Hearing Loss
Hearing loss and hazardous noise exposure have been associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), depression and even cognitive decline.
For more information or to schedule a hearing test, call the experts at Hearing Center of Lake Charles.