Mining hearing conservation programs: do they really prevent hearing loss?
Azman A; Sun K
Inter-Noise 2018. The 47th International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering: Impact of Noise Control Engineering, August 26-29, 2018, Chicago, Illinois. Indianapolis, IN: Institute of Noise Control Engineering, 2018 Aug; :1-10
Hearing Conservation Programs (HCPs) have been required by federal regulation in mining environments since the year 2000. Yet, the prevalence of hearing loss remains high in the mining industry in the United States. A variety of noise control solutions, as well as behavioral interventions, have been developed in recent years by research organizations, manufacturers, and other entities. There is a large selection of hearing protection devices commercially available to the public and no shortage of for-hire audiometric test services. The availability of resources should allow for the prevention of continued occupational hearing loss in mining; however, the current prevalence of hearing loss leads to question if perhaps there are shortcomings in the effective execution of existing HCPs. Further, can the existing HCPs be modified to yield better results? A review of currently available literature to date as well as recent data analyses conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is presented in this paper. In addition, potential solutions for increasing the effectiveness of HCPs in mining, with applicability to other heavy industries, are discussed here. Such solutions will include greater worker involvement, improved training practices, and integration of hearing protection fit testing into existing hearing conservation programs.
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