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hearing protection devices (NRR = noise reduction rating) has been studied carefully by several research- ers, and improper sealing of the ear canal is the primary cause. According to the report, “Measurement of Hear- ing Protection Devices Performance in the Workplace During Full-Shift Working Operations,” sealing prob-


lems have been found to result from the following list of issues: • Lack of use (utilization rate). • Poor fit. • Improper compatibility with other PPE (e.g. safety glasses or safety helmet).


• Readjustment during use (most often, discomfort).


• Equipment deterioration. • Abuse of equipment. Te explanation of why hear-


ing protection devices are not worn consistently provided by workers fre- quently is that it interferes with com- munication. Tis particular objection has been studied closely by audiologi- cal researchers. Actually, for those with normal hearing profiles, there is a 7–12% improvement in speech recognition while in a noisy envi- ronment when wearing appropriate hearing protection, according to the report, “Speech Recognition in Noise Under Hearing Protection.” Tat is, for those with normal hearing, you are better off with hearing protection in place. Te noise reduction prevents cochlear overloading and enables bet- ter signal detection. However, some types of hearing protection do reduce speech recognition in individuals with impaired hearing. Specifically, hearing protection needs to be designed to uniformly reduce the decibel level of sound across all frequencies— typi- cally those with hearing loss suffer in the higher pitch frequencies and attenuating these frequencies on top of the existing loss makes speech difficult to decipher. Hearing protec- tion devices that are “flat attenuating” provide protection and benefit speech recognition even for those with hear- ing loss in noisy environments. Te foregoing discussion, and the


types of problems observed in real world application of hearing pro- tectors, explains why among other requirements, OSHA requires annual training where hearing protection is worn. Tis training is not simply a reminder to wear your earplugs on the shop floor. Hearing protection required train-


ing must include: • Description of the effects of noise on hearing.


• The purpose of hearing protection. • The advantages and disadvantages and attenuation characteristics of various types of protection.


• Instruction on the proper fitment, care and use of protective devices.


• Description of the purpose of annual audiometric testing and the test procedures. It is also important that train-


24 | MODERN CASTING August 2017


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