Age Correction and Re-write of OSHA Technical Manual – Section III, Chapter 5, Noise 


There is exciting news for hearing conservation programs. Per OSHA Directive TED-01-00-015, there has been "a complete update and revision of this chapter." This revision includes approving the use of NHANES data for age correction of audiograms. Two brief excerpts from Chapter 5

1) "A set of population-based age adjustment tables have recently been developed using data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) which was then validated using a database of exposed workers (male firefighters and emergency medical service workers). Results from this validation study ( included: cross-sectional trends implied less change with age than assumed in current U.S. regulations; different trends were observed among people identifying with non-Hispanic Black race/ethnicity; four age adjustment tables (age range: 18-85) were developed (women or men; non-Hispanic Black or other race/ethnicity); and, validation outcomes showed that the population-based tables matched median longitudinal changes in hearing sensitivity well. This study concludes that these population-based tables provide a suitable replacement for those implemented in the current noise standard and that the tables based on the NHANES data address a broader range of worker ages, account for differences in hearing sensitivity across race/ethnicity categories, and have been validated for men using longitudinal data. These age adjustment tables can be found in the supplemental material from the study."    

2) "…if age correction is to be performed then NHANES data is recommended for use instead of the tables in the noise standard."

This critical change to better align age correction values with population hearing levels was made possible by NHCA member research. See reference to the validation study below.

 Flamme, G.A., K.K. Deiters, M.R. Stephensen, C.L. Themann, W.J. Murphy, and D.C. Byrne. 2019. Population-based age adjustment tables for use in occupational hearing conservation programs. International Journal of Audiology. 59, 20-30.