Research Update: Self-Reported HPD Use Varies

The researchers looked at a construction site, an industrial facility with a variable noise environment, and an industrial facility with a steady noise environment for one workday and for a two-week period.

Workers in steady noise environments self-report their use of hearing protectors more accurately than do workers in variable noise environments, researchers from the University of Washington's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences have found. Writing in the September issue of JOEH, Stephanie C. Griffin, Richard Neitzel, William E. Daniell, and Noah S. Seixas said they tested the accuracy of self-reporting because that has come to be an accepted, reliable tool to measure actual use across industry sectors. But recent research has indicated self-reported hearing protector use may not accurately reflect subjects' behavior where noise exposure varies.

They looked at a construction site, an industrial facility with a variable noise environment, and an industrial facility with a steady noise environment for one workday and for a two-week period.

The primary hypotheses for the study were: subjects in workplaces with variable noise environments would report their use of protectors less accurately than subjects in the stable noise environment, and reporting would be less accurate during two weeks than for a single day. They found good agreement between subjects' self-reported HPD use and researchers' observations. Workers exposed to steady noise self-reported hearing protector use more accurately on surveys than did workers exposed to variable noise, showing the potential importance of noise exposure variability as a factor influencing reporting accuracy.

"Indicators of Hearing Protection Use: Self-Report and Researcher Observation," Stephanie C. Griffin, Richard Neitzel, William E. Daniell, and Noah S. Seixas, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, Volume 6, Issue 10, September 2009, pages 639-647.

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