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NIOSH - National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
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 will the program achieve?

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Emerging Issues - Research Goal 3
Develop Engineering Controls to Reduce Noise Exposures

NIOSH’s efforts in developing engineering noise controls are relatively recent, and were initially focused on the mining and construction sectors. While we will continue our efforts on those sectors, there is a need for engineering control technology efforts to be directed toward other sectors as well.  Implementation of noise controls must not diminish production or interfere with operation when integrated with the equipment design.  Infrastructure development has provided laboratory measurement capabilities that were not in place in 2001 when the HLR program commenced the NORA research in noise control.  External partnerships between government, academia and industry are being pursued to institute a consortium for noise control solutions.  Results in construction and mining will have application to similar problems in other sectors.  Technology advances in both microprocessors and control theory hold the promise of low-cost implementation of active noise control at the source.   While noise controls are considered to be of primary importance in protecting the worker, safety and health professionals cannot implement noise control solutions if they lack information.  Toward that purpose, we will publish practical noise control solutions and noise emission levels from noisy products on the internet and in a compendium of noise control materials. 

Develop basic guidelines on engineering controls and the maintenance of those controls, and provide leadership for noise education in undergraduate and graduate programs in engineering, industrial hygiene, and architecture
Currently, engineers, industrial hygienists, and architects receive little or no training in the area of noise control. This results in a lack of understanding of its importance to the health of noise-exposed workers. Establishing curriculum guidelines and requiring more noise control related coursework will help create a better qualified professional workforce. 

Publish available noise control solutions and updates
In 1978, NIOSH published an Industrial Noise Control Manual which has 61 case studies of noise control solutions. This manual is being updated in a format that is web-accessible and searchable. Additionally, a feedback mechanism will be created so that users can contribute additional solutions.

Develop engineering noise controls for small businesses
NIOSH has a wealth of information on noise control solutions that were developed in the 1970s. They are available but not in an easily accessible format. Developing a new web-based noise control solution site could provide simple solutions that manufacturers and engineering personnel could easily access and implement.  The web provides a means of distributing noise-control tools to small business owners and managers allowing them to proactively choose quieter machines and environments for their workers.

Encourage manufacturers to provide noise labels
The lack of regulatory requirements to provide product labels that carry information about the product’s noise emissions leaves workers and consumers unaware of potential hazards to their hearing. The label should be based on sound power, and it should include the exposure level that the product user receives at the ear. The HLR program can work with the Institute of Noise Control Engineering and standards setting bodies to effect consensus standards for such labels.

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