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NIOSH Program Portfolio

 

Manufacturing

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

9278344 - Hearing Protector Testing Methods & Rating Schemes

Start Date: 10/1/1996
End Date: 9/30/2010

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: William Murphy
Phone: 513-533-8125
E-mail: wjm4@cdc.gov
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: DART
Funded By: Environmental Protection Agency

Primary Goal Addressed
4.0

Secondary Goal Addressed
None


Attributed to Manufacturing
100%

Project Description

Short Summary

More than 30 million workers are exposed to potentially hazardous noise and, at present, the primary redress available to them is use of hearing protective devices (HPDs). This project's goal is to develop and verify testing methods necessary to assess non-linear passive HPDs, electronically augmented HPDs, as well as traditional passive HPDs such that they may be followed by other laboratories. Part of that assessment will involve the analysis of data collected in an earlier large interlaboratory study of test methods. To assist other laboratories testing passive HPDS, a "Noise Reduction Rating Calculator" will be developed. All of the work of this project will underpin the provision of technical support to the EPA as it revises its HPD labeling regulation. No earmarked Agriculture or Construction funds have supported this project.



Description

This project will provide a directly funded project for the EPA interagency agreement. The Environmental Protection Agency is tasked with enforcing the labeling of hearing protection devices (HPDs) used in industry. The EPA relies on NIOSH research as a basis for promulgating HPD labeling regulations. New research projects and development efforts will be undertaken for the EPA and will be associated with this project. This project's goal is to develop and verify testing methods necessary to assess non-linear passive HPDs, electronically augmented HPDs, as well as traditional passive HPDs such that they may be tested by other laboratories. Part of that assessment will involve the analysis of data collected in an earlier large interlaboratory study of test methods. To assist other laboratories testing passive HPDS, a "Noise Reduction Rating Calculator" will be developed. All of the work of this project will underpin the provision of technical support to the EPA as it revises its HPD labeling regulation. The PS&B for the EPA efforts are also funded through this project. The EPA has submitted the revised rule for public comment in FY2008. The EPA project officer is expecting to have the NIOSH project officer work assist with the response to comment for approximately 3-5 months during the beginning of FY2009.



Objectives

This project is the direct funded component of the EPA interagency agreement. The primary objective of the project is to provide technical assistance to the EPA while they proceed with a revision of the regulation on labeling hearing protection devices. NIOSH scientists have drafted the preamble to the proposed rule and are working on the development of the rule's language. The project should be judged by the following activities in FY09:

• The EPA's revised rule for hearing protector labeling and testing will have gone through public comment and NIOSH will assist EPA with the response to public comment.

• The data from the interlaboratory study will be published in two peer reviewed papers.

• A Noise Reduction Rating database developed by NIOSH will be tested with users to determine its utility to find protectors appropriate to particular noise exposures.

In FY09, NIOSH will continue to provide technical assistance to the EPA during the public comment period



Mission Relevance

More than 30 million workers are exposed to potentially hazardous noise and, at present, the primary redress available to them is use of passive hearing protective devices. Because hearing loss prevention is a cross-sector program, a wide range of workers are affected by the requirement of the US Environmental Protection Agency that hearing protection devices be labeled using methods which were developed over three decades ago. Hearing protection devices which incorporate technologies such as Bluetooth-enabled protectors, active noise cancellation and hearing enhancement features were not available at the time of the EPA's promulgation of the labeling regulation. Consequently, these features are not reflected in the noise reduction rating. The project has a broad range of application across all sectors that rely upon communication in a noisy environment. According to the surveillance data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss represented the 11 percent of non-fatal recordable injuries in 2004. The research results derived from this project have been submitted to the EPA for use in the development of a revised regulation for labeling hearing protection devices. The research has been coordinated with manufacturers of hearing protection, US military hearing conservation and communication research programs and testing laboratories both in the US and internationally. Furthermore, the research has been used to provide guidance to the International Standards Organization through NIOSH's participation in the international standards process. Additionally, developing hearing protection test methods addresses the overall strategic goal 3 in the hearing loss cross sector area. The work on hearing protection use in the presence of impulsive noise Intermediate goal 3.2 and work on sound restoration hearing protection devices addresses both Intermediate goals 3.3 and 3.5 from the Hearing Loss cross sector. The reduction of noise-induced hearing loss as an occupational injuries has been identified as a strategic goal in the following sectors: Construction – SG4; Manufacturing – SG4 and Mining – SG2. With respect to the Mining sector, the Pittsburgh Research Laboratories have projects that address the reduction of hearing loss within mining.



Page last updated: June 3, 2011
Page last reviewed: May 23, 2011
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Office of the Director

 

NIOSH Program:

Manufacturing