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Prevalence of hearing loss among noise-exposed workers within the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sector, 2003-2012.

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence of hearing loss among noise-exposed US workers within the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting (AFFH) sector.

METHODS: Audiograms for 1.4 million workers (17 299 within AFFH) from 2003 to 2012 were examined. Prevalence, and the adjusted risk for hearing loss as compared with the reference industry (Couriers and Messengers), were estimated.

RESULTS: The overall AFFH sector prevalence was 15% compared to 19% for all industries combined, but many of the AFFH sub-sectors exceeded the overall prevalence. Forestry sub-sector prevalences were highest with Forest Nurseries and Gathering of Forest Products at 36% and Timber Tract Operations at 22%. The Aquaculture sub-sector had the highest adjusted risk of all AFFH sub-sectors (PR = 1.70; CI = 1.42-2.04).

CONCLUSIONS: High risk industries within the AFFH sector need continued hearing conservation efforts. Barriers to hearing loss prevention and early detection of hearing loss need to be recognized and addressed.

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