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Comfort: the "other" criterion for hearing protector design and selection.

Casali JG
Proceedings: 1992 hearing conservation conference, April 1-4, 1992. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, task order 91-37982, 1992 Apr; :47-53
The use of comfort as a criterion in the design and selection of hearing protector devices (HPDs) was addressed. For many HPDs there was a discrepancy between the manufacturer's rated attenuation efficiency and the performance achieved in practice. Comfort contributed prominently to this discrepancy. Tell tale indicators of discomfort were repeated donning and doffing of the device, nonuse, and user modifications. Techniques for obtaining HPD comfort data, rating scales, rankings, and magnitude estimations were addressed. Applications for HPD comfort data included product design, product selection and user feedback. The use of anthropometric data when specifying HPD sizes, headband features, and earplug sizes was discussed. A questionnaire designed to yield comfort data from workers was mentioned. Recent research on laboratory versus field ratings of comfort was discussed and included a comparison of four HPDs. Subject responses to a seven step bipolar comfort rating scale were converted to numerical values and correlation coefficients were determined. The HPD fitting procedure affected comfort, with less discomfort with the subject fit (SF) procedure than with the trained fit (TF) procedure. A significant increase in discomfort was reported with time, but only by earmuff users. All HPDs other than the canal caps rated essentially identical (27.9 to 28.5) while the canal caps were rated more uncomfortable (17.7). With both SF and TF procedures for the E-A-R plug and the Bilsom muff, and the TF condition for the UltraFit plug, comfort ratings after 2 hours of continuous use were significantly lower in laboratory subjects than in field subject. Recommendations and a list of issues relating to comfort evaluations of HPDs were provided.
NIOSH-Grant; Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Audiometry; Ear-protectors; Hearing-disorders; Industrial-exposures; Industrial-noise; Measurement-equipment; Occupational-exposure; Protective-equipment
Indus Engr and Operations Res Virginia Polytechnic Institute Blacksburg, VA Blacksburg, VA 24061
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Conference/Symposia Proceedings
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Proceedings: 1992 hearing conservation conference, April 1-4, 1992
Performing Organization
Virginia Polytechnic Inst and St Univ, Blacksburg, Virginia
Page last reviewed: February 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division