BACKGROUND : A high prevalence of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is observed amongst employees in the
steel manufacturing industry.
OBJECTIVE : To determine the prevalence of NIHL and current noise abatement techniques implemented at a steel
METHODS : Structured questionnaires were completed by permanent employees at a steel-manufacturing plant
for the purpose of collecting information on occupational and medical histories, noise exposure in and outside
the work environment, use of hearing protection devices (HPDs), and current noise abatement procedures. A
walk-through survey was also conducted to observe implemented noise abatement techniques using the Noise
Induced Hearing Loss Regulations of 2003 as a guideline.
RESULTS : A total of 17.9% of workers suffered from NIHL (95% CI 11.8% - 22.5%). Administrative controls,
and mufflers were identified by more than 70% of the respondents as control procedures most often
implemented by the company. Most of the respondents (77%) used HPDs always and 97% indicated that they fit
their HPDs at the beginning of the shift.
CONCLUSION : NIHL remains a significant health problem in this steel industry despite the implementation of noise
abatement techniques and the implementation of a noise conservation programme with all the required elements.