NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals
9278613 - Factors Affecting Hearing Conservation ProgramStart Date: 10/1/1999
End Date: 3/31/2010
Principal Investigator (PI)Name: Cheryl Estill
Funded By: NIOSH
Primary Goal Addressed4.0
Secondary Goal AddressedNone
Attributed to Manufacturing100%
This study will will identify factors having the most impact on the effectiveness of hearing conservation programs (HCPs). Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can be prevented when good hearing conservation practices are adhered to in the workplace. However objective, systematic measures of the effectiveness of HCPs must be developed to track whether prevention of NIHL is successful. The study evaluates three plant sites with well-established industrial HCPs which varied in the degree of compliance with the OSHA standard. Noise level, audiometric, and work history information for 10,000 employees from three manufacturing plants with differing hearing conservation programs are being evaluated. The results will be used to develop criteria for evaluation of HCPs and identify program components most likely to be associated with an effective prevention program. An evaluation of impact noise was also examined for one plant site.
The 1983 OSHA Hearing Conservation Amendment (HCA) allows employers flexibility in how they implement various components of the hearing conservation program. The objective of this research is to develop a systematic and comprehensive approach to the evaluation of hearing conservation programs (HCP) which are required as part of the OSHA HCA. The study will identify factors associated with effective hearing conservation programs (HCP) using data from three established programs (two automotive manufacturing plants and one food processing plant). The study will also develop methods for measuring effectiveness of these hearing conservation programs by examining organizational practices in the implementation of the OSHA standard and determining whether noise exposures have declined as a result of implementation of a HCP.
The project objective is to develop a systematic and comprehensive approach to the evaluation of hearing conservation programs (HCP) required as part of the OSHA HCA. The results will highlight (1) how the standard has affected noise exposures over time and (2) whether proactive programs are better or the same as minimally compliant programs in reducing the rate of hearing loss over time. The study will also identify program components and practices that best predict program effectiveness using both qualitative and quantitative data. The methods and results of this study will be relevant to evaluating current OSHA noise and hearing regulations.
There are more than 30 million U.S. workers exposed to noise levels in excess of 85 dBA, a level that is associated with a significant risk of noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). NIHL is one of the most common occupational diseases and the second most self-reported occupational illness or injury. Although hearing conservation programs (HCPs) were mandated by the OSHA Hearing Conservation Amendment of 1983, these programs have not been systematically evaluated to examine whether they prevent NIHL. This project includes a systematic and comprehensive public health approach to evaluating workplace hearing conservation programs. We will evaluate three hearing conservation programs at two automobile manufacturing plants and one food processing plant. Audiometric data, employee noise exposure levels, and work history records will be used to identify the factors of hearing conservation programs that make them effective. A significant portion of hearing loss occurs among employees in the manufacturing sector. This study will evaluate hearing conservation programs at three manufacturing sector plants. For the hearing loss sector, this study will identify hearing loss risk factors, especially those risk factors associated with hearing conservation programs.