Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) continues to be one of the most common occupational disorders, even inworkplaces with OSHA-compliant hearing conservation programs (HCPs). Prevention of occupationalhearing loss and development of better tools to assess HCP effectiveness are top priorities of theNational Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) for manufacturing. This proposal will build on a uniquerelationship between the research team and a major manufacturing company to develop acomprehensive, 'mixed method' approach for assessing HCP effectiveness. This research will alsoexamine the effect of innovative technologies for hearing loss prevention that have been implemented insome study facilities. The study aims are to 1) recruit 10 locations and determine observed vs. expectedrates of high frequency hearing loss for workers at each facility, 2) Perform quantitative analyses of thefacility audiometric databases, including proposed ANSI methods for assessment of HCPeffectiveness, 3) perform onsite qualitative analyses of HCP components using focus groups andinterviews, and 4) combine and compare quantitative and qualitative assessments using mixedmethods and multivariate approaches. This research will result in the development of a practical tool forassessing hearing conservation effectiveness and enhanced prevention of noise induced hearing loss.
This research addresses an urgent need to better assess and improve hearing conservation programsnationally. It has the potential to affect daily hearing conservation practice affecting millions of noise exposedworkers in this country. The results of this study could have major research to practice (r2p) implications forhearing conservation; identifying important new opportunities for the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss;one of the most prevalent occupational diseases.
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