Background This study provides an epidemiological profile of hearing loss cases reported to the Norwegian Labour Inspectorate (NLI) and also a distribution of cases by the notifying physician type.
Materials and Methods The study is based on obligatory physician notifications of work-related illnesses to the Norwegian Labour Inspectorate. These physician reports are the basis for the Registry of Work-related illnesses. We extracted NIHL data from this registry based on the ICD-10 codes for the period 2005–2009 (5-year period). We also obtained employment data from Statistics Norway by trade sector, gender and age. We then estimated the average number of cases reported in the period 2005–2009. Next we estimated the incidence rates for the reported cases by gender, age and trade sector. We also computed descriptive statistics for occupation and the type of notifying physician.
Results In the 5-year period, a total of 7888 cases of NIHL were reported to the NLI. On average 1577 cases of NIHL were reported. 96% of these cases were men. Incidence of reported work-related NIHL was estimated to be 66/ 100 000 workers. The incidence for reported NIHL cases was respectively 6 and 120/100 000 workers for women and men.
The highest incidence was found in age group 55–66. Cases reported from manufacturing, electricity, gas, steam, construction and mining sectors were found to have the highest incidence rates.
Occupational health physicians reported 85% of all the NIHL cases while hospital and general physicians reported 7% and 4% of the cases respectively.
Conclusions Work-related NIHL remains an extensive problem, yet an under-profiled problem in Norway. Targeted interventions toward vulnerable groups to reduce noise exposure to vulnerable groups are necessary.
The registry of work-related illnesses is not ideal in detecting cases of NIHL because of extensive underreporting and remedial measures ought to be taken to address this issue.
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