Surveillance for work-related hearing loss in the UK: OSSA and OPRA 1997-2000

Occup Med (Lond). 2002 Mar;52(2):75-9. doi: 10.1093/occmed/52.2.75.


Surveillance data on occupational audiological disorders have been collected by the Occupational Surveillance Scheme for Audiological Physicians (OSSA) since October 1997 and by the Occupational Physicians Reporting Activity (OPRA) from January 1996. During the 3 years ending in September 2000, a total of 1620 new cases were received from consultant audiological physicians; 988 new cases were estimated from reports by occupational physicians in the period from October 1997 to September 2000. The annual incidence of occupational noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) was 1.94 and 1.23 per 100 000 workers for the OSSA and OPRA schemes, respectively. The median age at diagnosis with NIHL was 59 years in OSSA reports and 50 years in OPRA; nearly all cases were seen in men (95.6 and 92.5% male cases for OSSA and OPRA, respectively). High incidence rates based on OSSA reports were seen in foundry labourers (64.0 per 100 000 employed), coal gas and coke oven furnace workers (54.6), workers in transport and communication (43.1), metal workers (31.3), and members of the armed forces (28.3). Data from occupational physicians point to high rates in sawyers and woodworking machinists, metal furnace workers, coach and carriage builders, maintenance fitters, and engineering labourers. Among workers aged < or =45 years, those in manufacturing and the armed forces were prominent. The long latency of occupational hearing loss makes surveillance difficult, but consistent patterns in occupational risk suggest targets for preventive efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Metallurgy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel*
  • Noise, Occupational*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology