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NIOSH Hearing Loss Research Program Review NIOSH Publications on Noise and Hearing The National Academies - Advisors to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

What has the program achieved?

In this section ....

Research Goal 1

Research Goal 2

Research Goal 3

Research Goal 4

HLR Databases

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Outputs and Transfer - Research Goal 1.8:
Develop training focused on improving HPD use

Preliminary results from this effort were disseminated at scientific conferences and professional meetings and will be submitted to scientific journals.

In 2000, NIOSH, OSHA, and LHSFNA co-sponsored a national conference on best practices for preventing hearing loss in the construction trades in Washington, D.C. The conference provided a forum to discuss how current and emerging technologies could be used to overcome the barriers which have prevented the construction industry from fielding comprehensive hearing loss prevention programs for its workers. The HLR program technologies developed for the then-planned carpenter field study were highlighted by NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock in her address to the conference. Industry, labor, and academic leaders attended this conference, in addition to DOL officials. The conference presentations were made available in a proceedings document that is also available on line at:

>> View What's Ahead for this Research Subgoal

Intermediate Outcomes

NIOSH recommendations regarding hearing protector use received national television coverage in 2003 when a HLR program researcher appeared on an episode of “This Old House.” (Episode 124) Each time this segment is re-run, the NIOSH 800 number and web site receive numerous calls from the public for information regarding proper selection and use of hearing protection.

From July 2003 through June 2004, the U.S. Navy paid nearly $13 million in worker compensation for hearing loss among its civilian workers. Based on 12,819 hearing tests collected at four shipyards from January through October 2004, 18% of the civilian workers were found to have a standard threshold shift. Navy occupational safety and health staff have attributed this hearing loss to shipyard workers failure to properly use their hearing protectors. Following a presentation of HLR program interim results at a scientific conference in February, 2005, the Navy asked NIOSH to collaborate on a field study designed to see if the NIOSH training methods could reduce the incidence of occupational hearing loss among Navy shipyard workers.

California has no hearing loss prevention standard for construction workers. Cal/OSHA is currently holding preliminary planning sessions and public hearings to explore the possibility of developing such a standard. Cal/OSHA Senior Industrial Hygienist, Robert Nakamura, is administering this effort and has been relying on HLR staff to provide technical assistance based on the results of the HLR program carpenter field study.

The UBC pilot tested these training methods at their international training center with approximately 75 of their carpenter training staff, and has expressed a commitment to adopt this training method at its 150 training centers across the U.S., servicing the entire 500,000 membership.

In 2002, the Honorable John Henshaw, Assistant Secretary of Labor, expressed interest in this project during his presentation at the OSHA/ACI safety conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. He stated that the methods and training tools developed by the HLR program could serve as a template for how a hearing loss prevention program should be implemented for the construction industry. OSHA subsequently issued an ANPR to amend the current OSHA hearing conservation standard for the construction industry (29 CFR 1926.52). OSHA requested that HLR program scientists attend a series of stakeholder meetings and provide technical briefings on applying current technologies to an updated hearing loss prevention standard for the construction industry.


Journal Articles

Morata T [2002]. Issues of hearing protection devices use in manufacturing and mining. J Acoustic Soc Am 112(5-2): 2295.

Morata TC, Fiorini AC, Fischer FM, Krieg EF, Gozzoli L, Colacioppo S [2001]. Factors affecting the use of hearing protectors in a population of printing workers. Noise and Health 4(13):25-32.

Svensson EB, Morata TC, Nylen P, Krieg EF, Johnson AC [2004]. Beliefs and attitudes among Swedish workers regarding the risk of hearing loss. International J Aud 43(10):585-593.


Joseph AR [2004]. Attenuation of Passive Hearing Protection Devices as a Function of Group Vs. Individual Training. Doctoral Dissertation, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, December, 2004.

Stephenson MR, Stephenson CM [2000]. Application of Health Communication Theories. Proceedings of the 3rd Annual U.S. Army Force Health Protection Conference, Baltimore, MD, August 8-10, 2000.

Stephenson MR [2000]. Developing a Hearing Loss Prevention Program for Construction Workers. Proceedings of National Conference on Best Practices for Preventing Hearing Loss in the Construction Trades, AFL-CIO Building Construction Trades Department,  Washington, D.C., Mar 30-31, 2000.

Stephenson MR [1996]. Empowering the Worker to Prevent Hearing Loss: The   of Education and Training. Proceedings of National Hearing Conservation Conference XXI. Milwaukee: National Hearing Conservation Association.

Sweeney MH, Fosbroke D, Goldenhar L, Jackson L, Linch K, Lushniak B, Merry C, Schneider S, Stephenson M [2000]. Health consequences of working in construction. In Construction Safety and Health Management, RJ Coble, J Hinze, & TC Haupt (Eds.), pp 211-234. Prentice-Hall, New Jersey.



Merry CJ, Stephenson MR. Reliability and Feasibility of Earplug Fit-Testing in the Real World. Invited platform presentation at 24th Annual Meeting of the National Hearing Conservation Association, February 25-27, Atlanta, Georgia.

Morata TC. Issues of Hearing Protection Devices Use in Manufacturing and Mining [2002]. Presentation at the 144th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Pan-American/Iberian Meeting on Acoustics 2002, Cancun, Mexico, December 2-6.

Morata TC. Issues of Hearing Protection Devices Use in Manufacturing and Mining [2004]. Presentationat the Pre-Symposium on Noise and Hearing Conservation, of the 19th International Audiology Meeting, Bauru, SP, Brazil, April 27. Invited Speaker.

Stephenson MR, Merry CJ. Hearing Loss Prevention and Hearing Protector Use for Coal Miners. Annual Mining Instructors Seminar, Mine Safety and Health Academy, Beckley, West Virginia, October 14-18, 1996.

Stephenson MR. Behavioral Aspects of Occupational Hearing Loss, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle. WA. October 16, 2003.

Stephenson MR. Dealing With Barriers that Prevent Workers from Wearing Hearing Protection,  American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, Atlanta, GA, May 9, 2004.

Stephenson MR. Preventing Hearing Loss Among Carpenters, United Brotherhood of Carpenters Health and Safety Fund, Annual Meeting, Palm Springs, CA, February, 1998.

Stephenson MR. Preventing Hearing Loss Among Underserved Workers, Acoustical Society of America - Cincinnati Chapter, Cincinnati, Ohio, December, 1995.

Stephenson MR. Preventing Hearing Loss in Construction:  Issues and Answers, Allied Construction Industries Annual Conference, Cincinnati, OH, March 6, 2001.

Stephenson MR. Preventing Occupational Hearing Loss Among Carpenters, OSHA Annual Consultation Conference, Salt Lake City, UT, April 27-28, 2004.

Stephenson MR. The Effects of Removing Barriers to Hearing Protector Use, Acoustical Society of America, May 27, 2004.

Stephenson MR. The Hearing Test and the Construction Industry. American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, Dallas, TX. May 22, 2003.

Stephenson MR. You Can Lead a Horse to Hearing Protectors, But How Do You Get It to Wear Them? American Industrial Hygiene Association Annual Conference, Orlando FL May, 2000.

Stephenson MR, Merry CJ. The Relevance of Self-Efficacy to Using Personal Hearing Protector Devices to Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. American Public Health Association, Chicago, IL, November 6, 1999.

Stephenson MR, Merry CJ, Franks JR. Computer-based Training for Managing Hearing Loss Prevention Programs, National Conference on Workplace Safety and Health Training, St. Louis, MO, October 25, 1999.

Stephenson MR, Stephenson CM. Preventing Occupational Hearing Loss: How to Teach Carpenters and Millwrights to Have Healthy Hearing. United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners International Training Center, Las Vegas, NV, April 21-22, 2003 


Merry C J, Stephenson MR. Case Studies on Education and Motivation for Hearing Loss Prevention. Invited Workshop, 23rd Annual Meeting of the National Hearing Conservation Association. February 19-21, Albuquerque, NM, 1998.

Training Videos:

Stephenson MR, Merry CJ [1997]. Preventing Hearing Loss: They’re Your Ears. NIOSH Training Video. 

Stephenson MR, Stephenson CM [2002]. Hearing Protectors - Only as Good as the Fit. NIOSH Training Video.

Stephenson MR, Stephenson CM, Deither J [2002]. Tinnitus, NIOSH Training Video.


Stephenson MR [2003]. Preventing Hearing Loss from Exposure to Power Tools. Guest appearance on “This Old House”, Concord, MA, January 11.

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