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Effectiveness of insert-type hearing protectors (earplugs) in the workplace.

Green WW; Edwards RG; Broderson AB
Proceedings: 1989 industrial hearing conservation conference, April 12-14, 1989. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, purchase order no. 93-6808, 1989 Apr; :27-31
Over a period of 8 years, three studies were conducted in the workplace which clearly showed that workers generally did not receive the attenuations achieved in the laboratory by wearing insert type hearing protectors. Two of these studies were conducted in a specially instrumented van which allowed the determination of real ear attenuation provided by several different earplugs. The individuals tested included 449 workers at 16 industrial sites. On average, the workers received only 1/3 to 1/2 the total decibel attenuation claimed possible by the manufacturers of the devices. The effectiveness of a foam type earplug was studied at two DuPont facilities with the identical protocol and instrumentation as in the earlier studies. Use of these foam type plugs provided over 70% the expected decibel-A attenuation levels. The employees also accepted these plugs more readily, developed greater skill in inserting them, and used them more often. The authors conclude that earplug design, selection of appropriately sized earplugs, acceptance of the earplugs by the employees, and the training of the workers in the use of the devices were important in the overall increased safety experienced by the worker.
Ear-protectors; Personal-protective-equipment; Noise-exposure; Construction-workers; Industrial-noise; Hearing-protection; Ear-protection
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Proceedings: 1989 industrial hearing conservation conference, April 12-14, 1989
Page last reviewed: February 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division