Hearing Protector Fit Project

Project ID: 3810
Principal Investigator: April Brown
Research Topic: Public and Employee Safety
Funded Fiscal Years: 2016, 2017 and 2018
Keywords: None

Research Question

1. Is the proper selection and fit of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for hearing protection a factor in the equation of Hearing loss due to high occupational noise exposure? a. What is the current effectiveness of ear plugs and ear muffs provided by employer on the individual employee's hearing within the Hoover Dam power plant and does the PPE provide the employee with adequate hearing protection within high noise areas? b. Will the use of the EAR Fit validation testing demonstrate to the employee the proper selection and fit of hearing protection, and provide the employee with the necessary information to select the PPE that will fit properly and provide the employee with the required level of hearing protection?

Need and Benefit

Hearing loss is one of the biggest claims for workers compensation in the Lower Colorado region related to Power Plant workers. Hearing loss is the number one workers compensation issue in Reclamation. Each year Reclamation pays approximately 1 million dollars in hearing loss claims. The goal of this project is to see if PPE for employees can aid to limiting hearing loss throughout the region and reclamation wide via Ear fit testing. Noise is often overlooked as a hazard because there are no obvious indicators of acute or chronic exposure. However, noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is one of the highest workers compensation expenses agencies have for non-traumatic injuries. NIHL is preventable by reducing the noise at the source, providing effective hearing protectors, and/or by limiting frequency and duration of exposure. Most of the existing power plants are over 40 years old and were constructed before many modern noise control technologies were developed. It is paramount to determine the source and type (frequency and level) of noise in the power plants prior to evaluating potential mitigation measures. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration require elimination/reduction of a hazard through engineering controls prior to implementing administrative and personal protective equipment strategies.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20