Objectives: The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Noise Standard provides the option for employers to apply age corrections to employee audiograms to consider the contribution of ageing when determining whether a standard threshold shift has occurred. Current OSHA age-correction tables are based on 40-year-old data, with small samples and an upper age limit of 60 years. By comparison, recent data (1999-2006) show that hearing thresholds in the US population have improved. Because hearing thresholds have improved, and because older people are increasingly represented in noisy occupations, the OSHA tables no longer represent the current US workforce. This paper presents 2 options for updating the age-correction tables and extending values to age 75 years using recent population-based hearing survey data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Both options provide scientifically derived age-correction values that can be easily adopted by OSHA to expand their regulatory guidance to include older workers. Methods: Regression analysis was used to derive new age-correction values using audiometric data from the 1999-2006 US NHANES. Using the NHANES median, better-ear thresholds fit to simple polynomial equations, new age-correction values were generated for both men and women for ages 20-75 years. Results: The new age-correction values are presented as 2 options. The preferred option is to replace the current OSHA tables with the values derived from the NHANES median better-ear thresholds for ages 20-75 years. The alternative option is to retain the current OSHA age-correction values up to age 60 years and use the NHANES-based values for ages 61-75 years. Conclusions: Recent NHANES data offer a simple solution to the need for updated, population-based, age-correction tables for OSHA. The options presented here provide scientifically valid and relevant age-correction values which can be easily adopted by OSHA to expand their regulatory guidance to include older workers.
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