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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 58  |  Page : 119--128

Prevalence of permanent hearing threshold shift among workers of Indian iron and steel small and medium enterprises: A study

1 Department of Industrial and Production Engineering, Dr. B R Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, Punjab, India
2 Department of Physiology, AIIMS New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Lakhwinder Pal Singh
Department of Industrial and Production Engineering, Dr. B R Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar-144 011
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.97256

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Occupational noise exposure and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) have been recognized as a problem among workers in Indian industries. The major industries in India are based on manufacturing. There are appreciable numbers of casting and forging units spread across the country. The objective of this study is to determine the prevalence of permanent hearing threshold shift among the workers engaged in Indian iron and steel small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and compared with control group subjects. As a part of hearing protection intervention, audiometric tests were conducted at low (250-1000 Hz), medium (1500-3000 Hz), and high (4000-8000 Hz) frequencies. The occurrence of hearing loss was determined based on hearing threshold levels with a low fence of 25 dB. Comparisons were made for hearing threshold at different frequencies between the exposed and control groups using Student's t test. ANOVA was used for the comparison of hearing threshold dB at different frequencies among occupation and year of experience. A P value <0.05 was considered as statistically significant. All data were presented as mean value (SD). Over 90% of workers engaged in various processes of casting and forging industry showed hearing loss in the noise-sensitive medium and higher frequencies. Occupation was significantly associated with NIHL, and hearing loss was particularly high among the workers of forging section. The analyses revealed a higher prevalence of significant hearing loss among the forging workers compared to the workers associated with other activities. The study shows alarming signals of NIHL, especially in forging workers. The occupational exposure to noise could be minimized by efficient control measures through engineering controls, administrative controls, and the use of personal protective devices. Applications of engineering and/or administrative controls are frequently not feasible in the developing countries for technical and financial reasons. A complete hearing conservation programme, including training, audiometry, job rotation, and the use of hearing protection devices, is the most feasible method for the protection of industrial workers from prevailing noise in workplace environments in the developing countries.


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