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Agreement between task-based estimates of the full-shift noise exposure and the full-shift noise dosimetry.

Virji-MA; Woskie-SR; Waters-M; Brueck-S; Stancescu-D; Gore-R; Estill-C; Prince-M
Ann Occup Hyg 2009 Apr; 53(3):201-214
Noise assessments have been conducted using full-shift dosimetry and short-term task-based measurements. Advantages of the task-based method include the opportunity to directly identify high-noise exposure tasks and to target control measures, as well as obtain estimates of task-based full-shift exposures; however, there is little empirical evidence comparing the two methods. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health assessed noise exposures at three industrial facilities using dosimetry and task-based methods with the objective of comparing the two strategies and assessing the degree of agreement and causes of disagreement. Eight indices of task-based full-shift exposures were created from task-based sampling using three methods to assess time-at-task (direct observation by industrial hygienist, end-of-shift worker estimates and supervisor estimates) and three methods to assign noise levels to tasks [direct measurement, arithmetic mean (AM) and geometric mean (GM)]. We assessed aspects of agreement (precision, bias and absolute agreement) using Bland-Altman plots and concordance correlation coefficient (CCC). Overall, the task-based methods worked fairly well, with mean biases less than +/-2.8 dBA and precision ranges of 3.3-4.4 dBA. By all measures, task-based full-shift estimates based on supervisor assessment of time-at-task agreed most poorly with the dosimetry data. The task-based full-shift estimates based on worker estimates of time-at-task generally agreed as well as those based on direct observation. For task noise level, task-based full-shift estimates based on directly measured task agreed the best with dosimetry data, while agreement for task-based indices based on task AM or GM was variable. Overall, the task-based full-shift estimates based on direct observation task and direct measured task noise level achieved the best agreement with the dosimetry data (CCC 0.84) with 95% of their differences being within 7.4 dBA and 56% of the differences <3 dBA. For this index, a high degree of accuracy was observed (accuracy coefficient = 0.96) with major cause of disagreement arising from a lack of precision (precision coefficient = 0.88). When the measurements were classified by job characteristics, significant improvements in the degree of agreement were observed in the low job mobility, low job complexity and low job variability categories. Our data suggest that a high degree of absolute agreement can be achieved between the task-based and dosimetry-based estimates of full-shift exposures. The task-based approach that uses worker reports combined with task AM or GM levels is similar to the more time-intensive direct observation method to estimate full-shift exposures.
Models; Mathematical-models; Noise-analysis; Noise-exposure; Noise-measurement; Noise-pollution; Noise-sources; Occupational-exposure; Quantitative-analysis; Statistical-analysis; Shift-workers; Time-weighted-average-exposure; Work-environment; Work-practices; Author Keywords: accuracy; agreement; bias; concordance correlation coefficient; noise exposure; precision; task-based exposure assessment
M. Abbas Virji, Field Studies Branch, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, MS 2800, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505
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Annals of Occupational Hygiene