Evaluation of noise exposure and risk of hearing impairment in employees using communication headsets or headphones
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Instytut Medycyny Pracy im. prof. J. Nofera / Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Łódź, Poland (Zakład Zagrożeń Fizycznych / Department of Physical Hazards)
Małgorzata Pawlaczyk-Łuszczyńska   

Instytut Medycyny Pracy im. prof. J. Nofera w Łodzi, Zakład Zagrożeń Fizycznych, ul. św. Teresy 8, 91-348 Łódź
Med Pr 2019;70(1):27–52
Background: The aim of the study was to assess the noise exposure and risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) among users of communication headsets (CHs) or headphones. Material and Methods: Noise measurements and questionnaire surveys were carried out in 74 workers (aged: 31.8±7.3 years), including military aviation personnel (N = 12), transcribers (N = 18) and call center operators (N = 44). Sound pressure levels (SPLs) emitted by CHs (or headphones) were determined using the microphone in the real ear (MIRE) technique and artificial ear techniques according to PN-EN ISO 11904-1:2008 and CSA Z107.56-13, respectively. The risk of NIHL was evaluated in accordance with PN-ISO 1999:2000. Results: The diffused-field-related A-weighted equivalent-continuous SPLs measured under CHs (or headphones) using the MIRE and artificial ear techniques reached values of 67–86 dB (10–90th percentile) and 68–89 dB (10–90th percentile), respectively. The study subjects used these devices 1.5–8 h (10–90th percentile) per day. Exposure to such noise levels for 40 years of employment causes the risk of hearing impairment (mean hearing threshold level for 2, 3 and 4 kHz > 25 dB) up to 10–12% (MIRE technique) or 19–22% (artificial ear technique). Individual daily noise exposure levels in study group varied 71–85 dB (10–90th percentile). A number of workers complained of problems with understanding speech in noisy environment (28.4%) and hearing whisper (16.2%) and experienced post-work temporary hearing symptoms (16.2–25.7%) as well. Conclusions: The users of CHs and headphones should be included in the hearing conservation program. Further studies are also needed among employees of other industries. Med Pr. 2019;70(1):27–52