Saf Health Work.  2017 Dec;8(4):364-370. 10.1016/j.shaw.2017.03.005.

Individual Fit Testing of Hearing Protection Devices Based on Microphone in Real Ear

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Occupational Hygiene, School of Public Health and Researches Center for Health Sciences, Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Hamadan, Iran. mohsen.aliabadi@umsha.ac.ir
  • 2Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Hamadan, Iran.

Abstract

BACKGROUND
Labeled noise reduction (NR) data presented by manufacturers are considered one of the main challenging issues for occupational experts in employing hearing protection devices (HPDs). This study aimed to determine the actual NR data of typical HPDs using the objective fit testing method with a microphone in real ear (MIRE) method.
METHODS
Five available commercially earmuff protectors were investigated in 30 workers exposed to reference noise source according to the standard method, ISO 11904-1. Personal attenuation rating (PAR) of the earmuffs was measured based on the MIRE method using a noise dosimeter (SVANTEK, model SV 102).
RESULTS
The results showed that means of PAR of the earmuffs are from 49% to 86% of the nominal NR rating. The PAR values of earmuffs when a typical eyewear was worn differed statistically (p < 0.05). It is revealed that a typical safety eyewear can reduce the mean of the PAR value by approximately 2.5 dB. The results also showed that measurements based on the MIRE method resulted in low variability. The variability in NR values between individuals, within individuals, and within earmuffs was not the statistically significant (p > 0.05).
CONCLUSION
This study could provide local individual fit data. Ergonomic aspects of the earmuffs and different levels of users experience and awareness can be considered the main factors affecting individual fitting compared with the laboratory condition for acquiring the labeled NR data. Based on the obtained fit testing results, the field application of MIRE can be employed for complementary studies in real workstations while workers perform their regular work duties.

Keyword

fit testing; hearing protection device; microphone in real ear; noise reduction rating
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