Emerging Issues - Research Goal 2
Reduce Hearing Loss through Interventions Targeting Personal Protective Equipment
The greatest challenges in the area of personal hearing protection will no longer be in the traditional technology of passive earplugs and earmuffs. The integration of communication systems with hearing protection have resulted in highly sophisticated equipment that necessitate the development of yet another generation of new measurement and rating standards. The development of recommendations for the accommodation of hearing impaired workers will continue. The use of personal music players with the ability to produce potentially damaging sound pressure levels presents additional challenges in hearing loss prevention particularly if such devices are used as both hearing protection and entertainment. Practical workplace recommendations will require targeted research involving cooperation between our industrial partners and hearing protector manufacturers.
Refine hearing protector fit-testing methods
A more effective fit-testing protocol is needed for hearing loss prevention programs. Several aspects of fit-testing must be improved: error checking during threshold assessment, coupling occluded testing with audiometric testing to reduce testing times and using workers’ noise exposures to estimate adequacy of protection. Laboratory and field research have demonstrated that fit-testing can improve the attenuations workers achieve. Fit-testing coupled with the targeted training materials will improve the effectiveness of HLP programs.