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Alternatives for hearing loss risk assessment.

Erdreich J
SV. Sound Vib 1985 May; 19(5):22-23
A report was presented which examined the different degrees of hearing loss suffered by workers in an environment where engineering controls have been used to lower the exposure levels to below the 90 decibel (dB) time weighted average (TWA) as compared to those workers in an environment where engineering controls to lower the noise emitted were not used and instead personal protective devices were employed to limit the worker's exposure. Recent studies have shown that workers actually receive less than half the manufacturer's rated protection from hearing protective devices. Ten percent of workers actually receive less than 3dB attenuation. Based on these estimates of protector attenuation and on the risk from noise exposure, the effect of reducing workplace noise levels from 100dB TWA to 90dB TWA as required by the noise standard was estimated using two protectors. A hearing protector which in field use can reduce noise by an average of 10dB, has a range of attenuation with a standard deviation of 9dB. Using engineering controls to lower the noise levels to 90dB would result in no worker being exposed to levels above this limit. For workers relying on the hearing protective device, half of the population would be exposed at more than 90dB TWA, and 16% would be exposed at 99dB or greater. The authors conclude that as long as hearing protection is used as the only solution for excess exposure, there will be workers exposed to hazardous levels of noise.
NIOSH-Author; Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Ear-disorders; Noise-exposure; Industrial-noise; Noise-control; Personal-protective-equipment; Noise-measurement
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Journal Article
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SV. Sound and Vibration
Page last reviewed: February 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division