Noise exposures. Effects on hearing and prevention of noise induced hearing loss

AAOHN J. 1997 Aug;45(8):397-408; quiz 409-10.


1. Over 30 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise on the worksite. Continual exposure to high noise levels damages and destroys hearing cells within the ear, making noise induced hearing loss an irreversible impairment. 2. Hearing conservation programs are required by law for workers in industrial settings where noise exposures equal or exceed 85 dB(A). Many workers, such as those in construction and agricultural industries, are not covered by these programs. 3. Reducing noise through engineering or administrative controls is the first line of defense. When this is not sufficient, two types of personal hearing protection devices are available: passive hearing protection devices such as ear muffs, canal caps, and ear plugs, which reduce noise mechanically; and active noise reduction devices, which electronically cancel sound waves at the ear. 4. The most effective hearing protection devices are those with which the worker is most comfortable will use 100% of the time. The occupational health nurse has a major role in promoting increased use of hearing protection devices through continued contact with workers, administrators, and safety personnel.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ear Protective Devices
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / diagnosis
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / physiopathology
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Health Nursing
  • United States
  • United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration