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NIOSH Program Portfolio

 

Manufacturing

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

927ZJKTa - Compendium and Selection Tool for Hearing Protection Devices (PHP)

Start Date: 10/1/2009
End Date: 9/30/2012

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Pamela Graydon
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: DART
Funded By: NIOSH

Primary Goal Addressed
4.0

Secondary Goal Addressed
None


Attributed to Manufacturing
50%

Project Description

Short Summary

This project will update and modernize the database and web-based presentation of the NIOSH Hearing Protection Device Compendium to reflect the expected changes in hearing protection ratings as required by the new rules to be issued by the US EPA. The revised Compendium will incorporate the ratings from several countries [i.e., European Union (SNR/HML), Australia-New Zealand (SLC80), Canada (CSA Class), and Brazil (NRRSF)] such that the user will be able to select their location and the ratings will be reported accordingly. This redesigned version will include products from world-wide manufacturers so that the compendium could be used by anyone in the world in need of assistance.



A more comprehensive compendium with a well-designed interface will permit multiple avenues of inquiry and facilitate the selection of appropriate HPDs. Complimentary information will be developed to inform the public on correct use of HPDs. For instance, the Compendium will be hyperlinked to other NIOSH products such as QuickWebFit and video training developed for the Mining and Construction sectors. The NIOSH Power Tool database is linked to the current Compendium allowing power tool users to identify protection that matches the noise exposure for the tool they are considering. Recommendations for Hearing Loss Prevention Programs and noise control development and implementation will also be provided. By making this information available in a single location, users will be better able to assess potential hazards in their workplaces and select the correct forms of protection.



Interviews will be conducted with hearing protector manufacturers to design better methods to identify appropriate protectors for a given job. Once the interface has been revised, focus groups will be convened and interviews conducted with hearing loss prevention professionals and industrial hygienists to fine-tune the usability of the interface. The revised Compendium will be available for use after the first year.



Description

This project will update and modernize the database and web-based presentation of the NIOSH Hearing Protection Device Compendium to reflect the expected changes in hearing protection ratings as required by the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA). In August 2009, EPA formally proposed new test methods and labels not only for passive earplugs, earmuffs and banded hearing protectors, but also Active Noise Reduction hearing protection devices (HPDs) and Impulsive Noise Reduction HPDs. When EPA completes the rule making process in FY10, the current Compendium will be obsolete and require significant modifications. Thus the timing is optimal for a comprehensive revision of the compendium to improve its interface and to make this document readily available to consumers, workers and safety & health professionals.

During the National Academies review of the NIOSH Hearing Loss Research program, stakeholder interviews identified difficulties in browsing, lack of ratings for other countries and training materials, and irrelevant features diminished the utility of the Compendium. The revised Compendium will incorporate the ratings from several countries [i.e., European Union (SNR/HML), Australia-New Zealand (SLC80), Canada (CSA Class), and Brazil (NRRSF)] such that the user will be able to select their location and the ratings will be reported accordingly. Under the existing interagency agreement, the EPA and NIOSH have developed tools for calculating the ratings and archiving the test data, allowing other ratings to be computed as appropriate. These tools have already been certified and authenticated as web applications for deployment on the CDC internet. Other factors need to be considered when choosing HPDs include the type of activity a worker performs, whether the device is compatible with safety equipment, and if the cleanliness of a worker's environment permits the use of certain protection types. A more comprehensive compendium with a well-designed interface will permit multiple avenues of inquiry and facilitate the selection of appropriate HPDs.

Complimentary information will be developed to inform the public on correct use of HPDs. For instance, the Compendium will be hyperlinked to other NIOSH products such as QuickWebFit and video training developed for the Mining and Construction sectors. The NIOSH Power Tool database is linked to the current Compendium allowing power tool users to identify protection that matches the noise exposure for the tool they are considering. Recommendations for Hearing Loss Prevention Programs and noise control development and implementation will also be provided. There are a host of other products that could be developed in the future using the backbone structure of this database, relevant to individual exposures over a working lifetime, and reducing exposures in workplaces. By making this information available in a single location and in a usable format, health and safety professionals will be better able to assess potential hazards in their workplaces and select the correct forms of protection for their workers.

This redesigned version will include products from world-wide manufacturers so that the compendium could be used by anyone in the world in need of assistance. The NIOSH HPD Compendium is an important document produced by the Institute and has been requested tens of thousands of times through the NIOSH publications office; from 2000-2004 an average of 8350 NIOSH numbered documents from the Hearing Loss Prevention Team were distributed each year. The current document requires significant revision to regain the status of a high quality and easily accessible guide for information about HPDs.

The completion of the project will rely primarily upon partners' input in the hearing protection manufacturing industry, occupational stakeholders, safety and health professionals and the EPA. In the first year, a half-time programmer will be contracted to restructure the database and reorganize the noise web pages. Interviews will be conducted with hearing protector manufacturers to design better methods to identify appropriate protectors for a given job. Once the interface has been revised, focus groups will be convened and interviews conducted with hearing loss prevention professionals and industrial hygienists to fine-tune the usability of the interface. The revised Compendium will be available for public use after the first year. Online surveys of compendium users will be compiled and suggestions incorporated into the system over the first few years of publication.



Objectives

The primary means to assess the impact of the website will be to measure its traffic (unique users versus hits). The Compendium will be segmented into Rating Information, Training, Tools, and Special Information. Each segment will be monitored for the number of initial hits, the number of pages viewed by the individual user and the amount of time that users spend viewing the segments.

During the National Academies review, we learned that the current Compendium was less popular as a single resource for comparing products since it only listed US products. In an earlier print version, information was compiled for not only the US, but also for other countries' ratings. In the redesigned Compendium, the country-specific rating will be included, and usage from outside the US can be directly measured. A pre and post design-modification survey to be provided to various stakeholders previously mentioned will be designed and these results will be used to continually improve the information displayed and provide feedback to the web team. Combined with guidance from regulators, manufacturers and most importantly users, the utility of the Compendium will better meet the needs of the various stakeholders.



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

 

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Manufacturing