J Korean Med Sci.  2010 Dec;25(Suppl):S62-S69. 10.3346/jkms.2010.25.S.S62.

Occupational Hearing Loss in Korea

  • 1Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute, Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency, Incheon, Korea. kobawoo@kosha.net


In this article, current status of noise exposure in workplaces, trend of workers with noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), and prevalence of NIHL in workers by industry and job category in Korea were reviewed. In addition, trends of research on the audiological effects such as hearing loss from noise and occupational hearing loss from non-noise in Korea were addressed through reports in industrial audiology. Though noise exposure level has improved, noise still shows the highest rate of cases exceeding exposure limit among workplace hazards. NIHL is the most common occupational disease except work-related disease such as musculoskeletal disorders and cerebrovascular diseases, and NIHL prevalence is thought to be much higher than reported in official publications. Noise affecting hearing comes from various sources such as workplaces, military settings, areas with exposure to high noise, and specific noise sources. There is also occupational hearing loss by non-noise including chemicals such as organic solvents and heavy metals, barotrauma, and trauma due to welding spark. Noise affects daily life through audiological effects such as hearing loss and tinnitus, non-audiological physical effects (e.g., cardiovascular), and psychosocial and behavioral effects. Development of systematic and comprehensive hearing conservation programs for lowering the noise level in workplaces and preventing the NIHL, and preparation of technological, administrative system for its settlement at workplace are urgently needed.


Occupational Hearing Loss; Noise-Induced Hearing Loss; Korea

MeSH Terms

Hearing Loss/*chemically induced
Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced/*epidemiology
Noise, Occupational/*adverse effects
Occupational Diseases/chemically induced/*epidemiology/*etiology
Occupational Exposure/adverse effects
Republic of Korea/epidemiology
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