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NIOSH Program Portfolio



NORA Construction Sector Strategic Goals

921Z6PE - Preventing Hearing Loss Among Shipyard Workers

Start Date: 10/1/2006
End Date: 9/30/2009

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Mark Stephenson
Phone: 513-533-8144
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: DART
Funded By: NIOSH

Primary Goal Addressed

Secondary Goal Addressed

Attributed to Construction

Project Description

Short Summary

The goal of this project is to reduce occupational hearing loss among shipyard workers. This will be accomplished by developing new hearing protector fit-test hardware and methods that are practical for use in the field. Combining this fit-test capability with newly developed health communication based training methods is expected to significantly improve the effectiveness of hearing protector devices. Additionally, this approach will give both workers and supervisors feedback on the amount of attenuation a worker’s hearing protector actually provides as it is worn in the field.


A sequence of events began in October, 2007 with consensus meetings between the U.S. EPA and hearing protector manufacturers to determine the most appropriate method for training workers to use hearing protectors. NIOSH is proposing the use of video training techniques. During FY 07 NIOSH developed video training materials which will serve as a template for updating U.S. EPA methods for rating hearing protector attenuation. In the 3rd quarter of FY 07 a statement of work was developed for a contract to validate the NIOSH HPD test materials and methods. During FY 08 and 09 the focus shifts to developing methods and materials to integrate the NIOSH video training methods with computer-based fit-test methods. During FY09 efforts will also include analyzing the effectiveness of the NIOSH training methods and fit-test procedures. The goal will be to produce efficient and effective methods employers can use to train workers in how to properly use HPDs, and to give both employers and workers a practical tool for determining if an HPD is correctly fit. These technologies will be transferred to the U.S. Navy in FY 10 for field testing at U.S. Navy shipyards.


The ultimate longitudinal goal of this study and the resulting intervention is to demonstrate a consistent and significant decrease in annual STS rates at this shipyard, and eventually throughout the industry as the lessons learned are disseminated and widely implemented. This has the potential to significantly improve hearing health for more than 150,000 workers in the United States alone. The first opportunity to note a decrease in new STS rates will occur following the first annual audiometry, post-intervention. Consistently decreasing annual STS rates will indicate that the programs are truly improving to protect and conserve workers’ hearing. STS rates are calculated from yearly audiometric data that will continue to be collected independent of this study. These data will permit ongoing longitudinal assessment of the effectiveness of the intervention beyond the time frame allotted to this study, and will provide an indication of whether the changes to the program are being maintained long-term. The methods, tools, and interventions employed in this study are expected to be transferable, with appropriate modification of specific elements, to any industry suffering similar problems with hearing loss prevention program failures.

Page last updated:April 24, 2013
Page last reviewed:May 23, 2011
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Office of the Director


NIOSH Program:


construction worker, crane, architect