NIOSH Workshop

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  Noise White Paper
Control Hazards
Breakout Session
Plenary  Report


Session co-chairs:

John R. Franks, Ph. D., Division of Biomedical and Behavioral Science, NIOSH

Alton Burks, Ph. D., Pittsburgh Research Center, NIOSH

NIOSH Whitepapers

Engineering Noise Controls and Personal Protective Equipment
When Federal regulations to protect workers' hearing were enacted, the legislators intended for engineering /administrative control to be used to reduce the noise exposures of workers to safe levels. It was clear that engineering/administration controls were the preferred method and that personal protective equipment (PPE) was to be used only as an interim measure if neither engineering nor administrative controls were feasible.

Engineering Control Technology Research
The objective of engineering control technology is to provide pragmatic recommendations on the prevention and control of worker exposure to hazardous conditions. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the future direction of research on this topic. First, this paper reviews the current status of engineering control technology and states a vision for the future application of engineering control technology.


Workshop Conclusions:

Workshop Proceedings
One of the issues addressed at the Workplace Controls Workshop, co-sponsored on March 10-12, 1998 by NIOSH, AIHA, and ASSE, was the unfinished business of noise control. The breakout session on noise issues was divided into three primary areas, with invited speakers and discussion on the State of the Art and Unfinished Business; Emerging Technologies; and Protective Equipment. This document begins with the summary presentation provided at the closing Plenary Session on Thursday, March 12; presentation summaries and pursuant discussion notes from each of the breakout sessions follows.

Committee Report
The consensus of the group was that it was necessary to broaden the discussion on noise to include hearing and hearing health issues. Further, the group concluded that it was impossible to limit discussions of hearing health issues to the workplace without consideration of non-occupational exposures.

Regarding engineering controls, it was the consensus of the group that, in general, proven technology exists and is commercially available to control worker exposure to hazardous noise. Participants focused on the underlying reasons for lack of widespread implementation, the barriers to effective hearing loss prevention, and the research agenda necessary to promote the general application of engineering control and protective equipment technologies.