Noise Exposure Associated With Hearing Aid Use in Industry Although noise may be innocuous in many vocational environments, there is a growing concern in industry that it can reach hazardous levels when amplified by hearing aids. This study examined the daily noise exposures associated with hearing aid use in industry. This was done by both laboratory and site measurements ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 1996
Noise Exposure Associated With Hearing Aid Use in Industry
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Thomas G. Dolan
    Portland State University, Portland, OR
  • James F. Maurer
    Portland State University, Portland, OR
  • Contact author: Thomas G. Dolan, Department of Speech Communication, Portland State University, P.O. Box 751, Portland, OR 97207.
    Contact author: Thomas G. Dolan, Department of Speech Communication, Portland State University, P.O. Box 751, Portland, OR 97207.×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 1996
Noise Exposure Associated With Hearing Aid Use in Industry
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1996, Vol. 39, 251-260. doi:10.1044/jshr.3902.251
History: Received October 7, 1994 , Accepted November 27, 1995
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1996, Vol. 39, 251-260. doi:10.1044/jshr.3902.251
History: Received October 7, 1994; Accepted November 27, 1995

Although noise may be innocuous in many vocational environments, there is a growing concern in industry that it can reach hazardous levels when amplified by hearing aids. This study examined the daily noise exposures associated with hearing aid use in industry. This was done by both laboratory and site measurements in which hearing aids were coupled to the microphone of an integrating sound level meter or dosimeter. The former method involved the use of recorded railroad and manufacturing noise and a Bruel and Kjaer 4128 Head and Torso simulator. In the latter procedure, a worker wore one of three hearing aids coupled to a dosimeter during 8-hour shifts in a manufacturing plant. Both methods demonstrated that even when amplified by mild-gain hearing aids, noise exposures rose from time-weighted averages near 80 dBA to well above the OSHA maximum of 90 dBA. The OSHA maximum was also exceeded when moderate and high gain instruments were worn in non-occupational listening environments. The results suggest that current OSHA regulations that limit noise exposure in sound field are inappropriate for hearing aid users.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by a grant from Union Pacific Railroad. We are grateful to the Programme d’Audiologie et d’Orthophonie of the University of Ottawa, and in particular to Andrée Durieux-Smith, for providing the facilities for the laboratory measurements. Thanks also to Gordon Frye and Douglas Martin for their helpful comments, to Starkey Laboratories Northwest for contributing two of the hearing aids, and to Jody O’Connor for her assistance in collecting field data.
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