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NIOSH, NSC Team for Practical Advice on Preventing Hearing Loss

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 260-8519
February 16, 2000

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) joins this month with the National Safety Council to provide workers and employers with practical information and advice on preventing work-related hearing loss, one of the most common occupational illnesses in the U.S.

The February 2000 issues of the National Safety Council’s Safeworker and Today’s Supervisor, developed in partnership with NIOSH, are devoted specifically to the topic of hearing protection on the job. The idea to publish these special issues stemmed from collaborations between NIOSH, the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing occupational illnesses and injuries, and the National Safety Council, a membership organization whose goal is to protect life and promote health. This is the first time that the editors have devoted an entire issue to one topic.

Some 30 million Americans are exposed to hazardous noise on the job. Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable, but it is permanent and irreversible once it occurs. Studies have shown that quieter workplaces are more productive and efficient, and that they have lower injury rates than noisier work settings.

“This joint project marks a new era of partnership between NIOSH and the National Safety Council,” said NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock, M.D., M.P.H. “The government can’t attack the problem of noise-induced hearing loss alone. This kind of teamwork is essential for carrying out our mission in this new century of increasing complexity, diversity, and change in the American workplace.”

The special issues of Safeworker and Today’s Supervisor answer frequently asked questions about the risk and prevention of hearing loss in noisy work environments, and offer guidance on protecting workers by muffling noise and providing effective hearing protection. “In plain language, the publications describe different types of hearing protectors and discuss factors to keep in mind in choosing and using them. Our partnership with NIOSH represents a new and exciting relationship with the agency,” said National Safety Council President Gerard F. Scannell.

The illustrated, pocket-sized formats are designed for everyday use in the workplace, and are written especially for their respective audiences. Safeworker will be distributed to 42,000 workers across the country and to other National Safety Council customers. Today’s Supervisor will be distributed to 95,000 managers in a range of different industries.

NIOSH and the occupational safety and health community named hearing loss as one of the 21 priority areas in the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA). NORA is a framework to guide future occupational safety and health research using input from more than 500 organizations and individuals, including the National Safety Council. NIOSH has worked extensively with the National Safety Council and other diverse organizations to prevent work-related hearing loss. These efforts include a “best practices” conference in October 1999 in Detroit, Mich., and a second conference to be held in Washington, D.C., in March 2000. In July 1999, NIOSH also joined the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in launching Wise Ears, a national communication effort to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.

The special issues of Safeworker (“Sound Advice—Protect Your Ears in Noisy Work Environments”) and Today’s Supervisor (“Listen Up! Learn How to Protect Your Hearing”) are available from the National Safety Council on the World Wide Web at Along with other information pertaining to NIOSH research and recommendations on preventing work-related hearing loss, they also are available through the NIOSH toll-free information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674) and NIOSH’s home page on the World Wide Web at