Div. of Occupational Med.
Swiss Natl. Accident Insurance Organization SUVA), CH-6002 Lucerne, Switzerland
In Switzerland, the program for the prevention of occupational hearing loss is carried out by the Swiss National Accident Insurance Organization (SUVA). About 50,000 people are examined each year by means of six mobile examination units (``audiomobiles''). Most of these people are exposed to potentially hazardous noise at their working places. In recent years, several groups of nonindustrial noise-exposed people (NINEP) have been included also with the aim to create a control group data base. In order to get representative NINEP data, different criterion have to be considered and will be discussed. Social, national, and economic differences are probably as important as differences in noise exposure at work. The hearing of workers in different occupations is compared---distinct by age and sex---to the NINEP group. NINEP subgroups screened in different ways are compared and the results are discussed. All the hearing loss data are compared to the reference values in Appendix B of ISO 1999-1990. Some general considerations concerning the problem of arriving at comparable NINEP data for the evaluation of the effectiveness of hearing conservation programs will also be presented.