Occupational health

Physical risk factors and hazards


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Occupational exposure to noise

Edited by Berenice Goeltzer, Colin H. Hansen and Gustav A. Sehrndt
Document published on behalf of the World Health Organization by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Dortmund, Germany
© WHO, 2001 ISBN 3-89701-721-0

This book with CD-ROM is intended for occupational hygienists and other occupational health and safety personnel as an introduction to the subject and as a handbook as well. It provides an overview of the evaluation, prevention and control of exposure to noise at the workplace, with a view to preventing noise-induced hearing loss. It starts with the fundamentals of acoustics, including the quantities to be measured and their relation to the psychology of hearing. Further details are given in the following chapters on the physiology and pathophysiology of the ear and hearing. The discussion of the occupational causes of hearing loss and the impossibility to recover from severe damages of the inner ear leads to the important issue of exposure criteria. Since there is agreement that noise reduction at source is the first choice for preventing hearing loss, basic information on noise sources is given in the next chapter. The next two chapters deal with the evaluation of exposure to noise, covering strategy for noise surveys and details on the required instruments, including their use and calibration. In spite of all efforts to reduce noise at the workplace, it is necessary to monitor the individual‘s hearing by repeated audiometry; this is covered in an extensive chapter, which also deals with the training of audiometric testing personnel and the preparation of the workers to be tested. Legal provisions in many countries require the hazard prevention by control programmes. Principles and measures for engineering noise control, as well as hearing conservation programmes and their management, are presented, always placing control of noise at the source in the center of any preventive strategy. However, the importance of personal measures should not be overlooked and this is covered in a chapter which includes an introduction to the different hearing protectors as well as workers’ education and training. Sources of information are given in the last chapter emphasizing the importance of standards for noise control at the design stage and leads to collections of relevant case studies.

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Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Headquarters Dortmund Friedrich-Henkel-Weg 1 - 25 DE - 44149 Dortmund, Germany P.O. Box 17 02 02, DE - 44061 Dortmund, Germany Phone: +49-231-9071-0 Fax: +49-231-9071-454