Introduction to the special issue: hearing protection state of the art.
Noise Health 2011 Mar-Apr; 13(51):85
It appears that the hearing protection device (HPD) will be a fixture of hearing loss prevention programs for the foreseeable future. The perception in industry is that it is more cost-effective to place workers in hearing loss prevention programs wearing hearing protection devices than to quiet the environment to safe levels. This issue describes the state of the art for research in hearing protection devices and hearing loss prevention programs. The barriers to workers accepting and wearing hearing protection include comfort and communication. Byrne et al. describe a simple study where subjects wearing a foam plug in one ear and a wax plug in the other report on comfort. Davis and Shaw characterize heat and humidity buildup under an earmuff both in terms of physical and comfort measures. Another barrier is the ability to hear safety signals. Alali and Casali report some new research on detection and localization of backup alarms while wearing different types of hearing protection. Training workers to more effectively use their hearing protection is fundamental to the hearing loss prevention program. Two companion papers by Stephenson et al. demonstrate how health communication can significantly influence attitudes, beliefs, and behavioral intentions about hearing protector use. Murphy et al. provide information on the effectiveness of video training versus professional training of HPD insertion techniques for workers. Their results seem to indicate that human contact is still needed for good hearing protection device placement. Ehlers and Graydon present a case study of their work on "training the trainers" to propagate the hearing loss prevention message to the agricultural community - an underserved population. The goal of hearing protector use is to reduce exposure of the ear to noise and thus hearing loss. A number of tools are emerging to help the hearing loss professional with that task, including individual fit-testing and under-the-protector monitoring. Fit-testing of hearing protection to ensure adequate attenuation has become a hot topic. In this issue, Hager reviews the most common fit-testing technologies, including psychophysical methods and microphone-based technology. Schulz then provides an overview of how these technologies are being used in hearing loss prevention programs. Berger et al. compare and contrast objective and psychophysical approaches to fit-testing. Taking a different approach is Michael et al., who measure the total noise exposure under the hearing protection device during the work day.
Agricultural-workers; Health-programs; Hearing-conservation; Hearing-loss; Hearing-protection; Injury-prevention; Noise-exposure; Noise-protection; Personal-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Physical-reactions; Protective-measures; Qualitative-analysis; Questionnaires; Safety-education; Safety-measures; Safety-research; Statistical-analysis; Training; Work-areas; Work-environment; Worker-motivation; Workplace-studies; Work-practices; Training
Rickie Davis, NIOSH-Taft Laboratories, Hearing Loss Prevention Team, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226-1998, USA
Noise & Health