Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2003-0094-2919, Utah Department of Public Safety, Utah Highway Patrol, Salt Lake City, Utah.
On December 4, 2002, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a telephone call from an employee of the Utah Department of Public Safety who expressed a concern for troopers in the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) being exposed to excessive levels of occupational noise that may impact their hearing. The telephone call resulted in a formal health hazard evaluation (HHE) request from the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. An opening conference was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, on December 16, 2002, with representatives of the troopers, the UHP, and researchers from Utah State University to discuss the logistics of a noise evaluation of the UHP troopers. The noise survey was conducted on March 11-14, 2003. Full-shift noise dosimeter measurements were collected from troopers representing six different counties around Salt Lake City over three days. Each shift, two of the troopers were paired with a NIOSH investigator who rode with the troopers and filled in an activity log to match with the timestamp on the noise dosimeters. The UHP headquarters furnished copies of the troopers’ in-car video tapes recorded during the survey period. Ambient noise samples were stored on a real-time analyzer to capture the noise spectra for the different highway conditions in which the troopers worked. Fifty-three full-shift dosimeter samples were collected during the evaluation. The daily noise levels were all well below the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s permissible exposure limit (90 decibels on an A-weighted scale [dBA]) and action level (85 dBA). However, the potential for high noise exposures is evident in the median values of the maximum levels captured over the three survey days, which ranged up to 126.5 dBA. The noise spectra collected along the side of the highways at four locations (an accident scene, open highway, in the median, and on a berm on the freeway) were measured at 78.9, 83.8, 88.4, and 88.0 dBA, respectively. Because of the potential for hazardous noise that UHP troopers may encounter during their employment, the NIOSH investigators offer recommendations to the Department of Public Safety that would reduce the risk of occupational hearing loss. The recommendations include an ongoing hearing conservation program and hearing protection use on firing ranges. An additional recommendation is offered on the use of devices to improve the troopers’ communication abilities while on duty.
Region-8; Hazards-Unconfirmed; Hearing-conservation; Hearing-loss; Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Noise-exposure; Noise-measurement; Noise-sources; Emergency-responders; Police-officers; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Hearing-protection; Noise; Noise-control; Noise-levels; Noise-measurement; Law-enforcement-workers; Dosimetry; Personal-protective-equipment; Ear-protection; Hazard-Unconfirmed