Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1988;14(4):265-271    pdf


Impulse noise and hand-arm vibration in relation to sensory neural hearing loss.

by Starck J, Pekkarinen J, Pyykko I

The present study was carried out to determine whether impulse noise and simultaneous exposure to noise and vibration can aggravate sensory neural hearing loss (SNHL) among forest (N = 199) and shipyard (N = 171) workers. The average level of exposure to noise outside the used earmuffs and the average exposure over time were nearly equal for the two groups. The impulsiveness of the noise and the average exposure level inside the earmuffs were measured with a miniature microphone. The hearing threshold of the workers was measured at 4 kHz and then estimated according to Robinson's model to compare the observed and expected hearing loss. The impulsiveness of the noise was greater both outside and inside the earmuffs in shipyard work than in forest work. The average SNHL was higher than predicted for the shipyard workers and about the same as predicted for the forest workers. The total exposure level inside the earmuffs was influenced by the total wearing time. The low frequencies of the chain-saw noise were not attenuated sufficiently by the earmuffs to protect the workers' hearing. The present study suggests that exposure to impulse noise increases the risk of SNHL, but that simultaneous exposure to hand-arm vibration and noise does not.