Shure Incorporated in Niles, Ill., and the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) have released the results of recent hearing tests performed at the 2009 Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention in New York City. Shure sponsored the free hearing screenings, which the NHCA conducted for several hundred AES attendees, many of whom work in the professional audio industry.
The results, recently released by the NHCA, suggest that audio engineers are at greater risk of hearing loss than others. The testing also provided some evidence of the effectiveness of hearing protection, as regular hearing protection users had slightly better results than did non-users.
“We were pleased to partner with the NHCA for this important testing at AES,” says Shure president and CEO Sandy LaMantia. “Shure has long been committed to helping those in the music business preserve their hearing, and comprehensive testing like this is a great way to keep people educated about hearing health.”
Exposure to high levels of noise is one of the most common occupational hazards faced by American workers, with an estimated 22 million noise-exposed workers. Because of their potentially high exposure to noise, audio engineers are among those at highest risk for developing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
During the screenings in October, 425 AES Convention attendees received a hearing test and answered a hearing history survey on a first-come, first-served basis. Technicians who were certified by the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing and supervised by an occupational audiologist holding a Doctor of Audiology degree conducted all testing.
Key findings of the testing included:
• Students had the best hearing levels and those working with audio and other related jobs had the worst hearing results.
• Differences in audio test results were noted among the different job titles surveyed, suggesting that some types of audio engineering work may present a greater risk of NIHL than others.
• Nearly 1 in 4 participants reported difficulty hearing in one or both of their ears, and well more than one-third of participants reported experiencing tinnitus (ringing or buzzing) in one or both ears.
• More than 1 in 3 participants reported normally working in a noisy area without hearing protection and more than one-quarter reported having regular noise exposure outside work.
• Average hearing levels among participants who reported using hearing protection during work were 1 to 2 dB better than those who did not use hearing protection.
“The testing results tell us there’s a need for additional hearing measurements and hearing loss prevention efforts among audio professionals,” continues LaMantia. “Noise induced hearing loss is a completely preventable disease, but people need to be aware of the risk factors and the steps they can take to minimize their risk.”
Shure sponsored the AES testing as part of the “Listen Safe” program, the company’s corporate cause that supports hearing conservation. Shure states that it will continue to provide free hearing screenings and distribute hearing protection devices at professional audio industry trade shows, music conferences, and to Shure Associates, to help reduce risks to hearing health.