That industry average has remained constant since the 1960s, according to Timothy Rink, Ph.D, and CEO of HTI, Inc. a consulting service. Rink’s 20-minute presentation at the 36th Annual National Hearing Conservation Conference in Mesa, AZ, Feb. 24-26. was on mining and managing hearing conservation program data.
He said 0.50 percent of workers do have OSHA recordable persistent hearing loss, or somewhere close to one in 100.
OSHA’s recordkeeping changes in 2003 mandating more specific and lower levels of reported hearing threshold shifts had a significant impact in drawing industry attention to hearing loss and improving hearing programs, said Rink.
One result: many plant managers began to have their annual pay bonuses influenced at least in part by the number of hearing losses recorded. “So they began pounding hearing programs,” said Rink.
He joked that if human resources wanted to take lessons from hearing loss data he has analyzed, HR would hire women in their 20s and 30s (when hearing loss is generally not issue for females) and would not hire any men (who have hearing loss rates higher than females.)