Although the effect of hearing loss on years lived with disability (YLD) is quite substantial, occupational hearing loss among migrant workers is significantly under-studied. In Kuwait, where nearly two-thirds of the population are migrant workers, the burden of occupational noise-induced hearing loss (ONIHL) is unknown. The objective of the study was to assess the prevalence of ONIHL among migrant workers in Kuwait and explore workplace and individual risk factors that are associated with ONIHL. We obtained data of annual physical exams for the year 2018 conducted by the Shuaiba Industrial Medical Center (SIMC) for all industrial workers in the area. We applied univariate and multivariate logistic regression models to estimate the effects of individual and occupational characteristics on ONIHL. A total of 3474 industrial workers visited the SIMC for an annual exam. The vast majority were men (99%) and non-Kuwaitis (98%) with a median age of 38 years. A total of 710 workers were diagnosed with ONIHL with a prevalence of 20.4%. Age, years of experience, and self-reported exposure to noise were associated with statistically significant higher odds of ONIHL. When adjusted for age, years of experience, and other individual level factors, type of industry was not a statistically significant predictor of ONIHL. The study uncovers the significant burden of hearing loss among the migrant worker subpopulation in Kuwait, an area of occupational health that is often underestimated or unrecognized. Although laws and regulations are in place to prevent and control noise in the workplace, the onus is on local authorities to ensure the necessary training and controls aimed to reduce noise exposure.
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