Noise induced hearing loss risk assessment in truck drivers.
Hearing sense is one of the key elements which may have impact on the driver's task quality. This cross-sectional study investigates the hearing status of 500 truck drivers by pure tone audiometry (AC) in one of the cities in Fars province, Iran. Hearing threshold levels of the subjects were measured in frequencies of 500Hz-8000Hz. Screening and determination of permanent threshold shift (PTS) was the first aim of this study. Hence tests were done at least 16 hours after any exposure to noticeable sound. The effect of age as a confounding factor was considered using ISO equation and subtracted from whole hearing threshold. The threshold of 25 dB HL and above was considered abnormal but the calculation of hearing was also carried out using 0 dB HL as reference. Subjects were categorized into two groups on the basis of working experience and the hearing threshold of 25 dB was considered a boundary of normal hearing sense. The results of Pearson Chi-Square test showed that working experience as an independent variable has significant contributing effect on hearing thresholds of truck drivers in frequencies of 500, 1000, 2000 and 4000 Hz (p greater than 0.05). Also, it was shown that currently nine and 12.6 % of truck drivers suffer from impaired hearing sense in left and right respectively (hearing threshold level greater than 25 dB) in mid frequencies (500, 1000, 2000 Hz) and 45% in high frequencies of both ears (4000 and 8000 Hz). The results indicated that hearing damage of professional drivers was expected to occur sooner at 4000 and 8000 Hz than lower frequencies. Finally it was deduced that the occupational conditions of truck drivers may have bilateral, symmetrical harmful effect on hearing threshold sense in all frequencies mainly in frequency of 4000 Hz, so health surveillance programs such as education and periodic medical examinations are emphasized for pre-diagnosing and prevention of any possible impairment and an urgent need to take up some interventions such as better maintenance of roads, automobile industry efforts to reduce the noise level emission of vehicles and reducing number of working hours per day of drivers are highlighted to improve the harmful working conditions of truck drivers.