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Friday, February 8 • 8:45am - 9:05am
The OSHA Age Corrections Are Not Correct: Evidence From NHANES and Longitudinal Analyses of Exposed Workers

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The NIOSH tables used to adjust occupational audiograms for the effects of age were developed using cross-sectional trends observed in a small dataset (380 men; 206 women). The data for those tables were collected over 50 years ago and do not account for: (1) reductions in hearing loss prevalence; (2) worker ages beyond 60; (3) race/ethnicity differences; and (4) the flawed logic of applying group cross-sectional trends to individual longitudinal changes.  Nationally-representative cross-sectional trends from NHANES (ages 12 to 85+; N=9937) were examined across gender and race/ethnicity using quantile regression.  The results were consistent with: (1) reduced prevalence of hearing loss in the population relative to the NIOSH dataset; (2) slower rates of age-related change in hearing sensitivity; and (3) substantial differences across race/ethnicity.    The cross-sectional trends provided a close match to median longitudinal changes in a large group of noise-exposed workers (76,000 tests), which could mean that the effects solely due to age remain overestimated by these trends.   This study indicates that application of the age adjustments in the OSHA Hearing Conservation Amendment reduces the effectiveness of the hearing conservation program and lead to under-identification of occupational hearing losses.

avatar for Greg Flamme

Greg Flamme

Senior Scientist, SASRAC
Gregory A. Flamme, Ph.D. is a Senior Scientist with Stephenson and Stephenson Research and Consulting (SASRAC).Prior to joining SASRAC, Dr. Flamme held faculty positions at Western Michigan University and The University of Iowa.He completed his Ph.D. in Audiology at The University... Read More →


Friday February 8, 2019 8:45am - 9:05am PST
Grapevine A