Health Hazard Evaluation Report HETA 99-0060-2766, Continental Express Airlines, Newark, New Jersey.
Employees at Continental Express Airlines in Newark, New Jersey, submitted a request for a health hazard evaluation (HHE) to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on December 8, 1998. The request concerned noise exposures for employees who work in the ramp area of the airport, servicing inbound and outbound aircraft. One specific area of interest was the auxiliary power units located on the regional jet aircraft and the noise they produce while the unit is operational. A NIOSH investigator visited the Newark International Airport on June 2-4, 1999, to conduct a site visit. Personal noise dosimetry was conducted on six ramp employees on June 3rd to document their exposures along with area noise measurements made with a real-time analyzer to evaluate the noise levels emitted by the auxiliary power units. The results of the noise survey revealed that none of the six employees measured had noise levels that exceeded the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) permissible exposure limit of 90 A-weighted decibels [dB(A)] as an 8-hour -time-weighted average. However, five of the six employees did surpass the action level of 85 dB(A) mandated by OSHA. Additionally, when the personal noise dosimeter results were compared to the NIOSH noise criterion, all employees were in excess of the recommended exposure limit, placing them at risk of occupational noise-induced hearing loss. The real-time spectral measurements made of the auxiliary power units counted exposure levels up to 120 dB(A) for the regional jets flown by Continental Express Airlines. The noise form the power units on these regional jets was also found to be greater than the noise emitted by the larger jets used by Continental Airlines.