This paper describes research conducted by Working Group 11 of Accredited Standards Committee S12, Noise, to develop procedures to estimate the field performance of hearing protection devices (HPDs). Current standardized test methods overestimate the attenuation achieved by workers in everyday use on the job. The goal was to approximate the amount of attenuation that can be achieved by noise‐exposed populations in well‐managed real‐world hearing conservation programs, while maintaining acceptable interlaboratory measurement variability. S12/WG11 designed two new laboratory‐based protocols for measuring real‐ear attenuation at threshold, with explicit procedures for subject selection, training, supervision, and HPD fitting. After pilot‐testing, S12/WG11 conducted a full‐scale study of three types of earplugs and one earmuff tested by four independent laboratories using both protocols. The protocol designated as ‘‘subject‐fit’’ assessed the attenuation achieved by subjects who were experienced in threshold audiometry, but naive with respect to the use of hearing protection, when they fit HPDs by following manufacturers’ instructions without any experimenter assistance. The attenuation results from the subject‐fit method corresponded more closely to real‐world data than results from the other protocol tested, which allowed the experimenter to coach subjects in HPD use. Comparisons of interlaboratory measurement variability for the subject‐fit procedure to previous interlaboratory studies using other protocols indicated that the measurements with the new procedure are at least as reproducible as those obtained with existing standardized methods. Therefore, the subject‐fit protocol was selected for consideration for use in future revisions of HPD attenuation test standards.
Development of a new standard laboratory protocol for estimating the field attenuation of hearing protection devices. Part I. Research of Working Group 11, Accredited Standards Committee S12, Noise
Julia Doswell Royster, Elliott H. Berger, Carol J. Merry, Charles W. Nixon, John R. Franks, Alberto Behar, John G. Casali, Christine Dixon‐Ernst, Ronald W. Kieper, Ben T. Mozo, Doug Ohlin, Larry H. Royster; Development of a new standard laboratory protocol for estimating the field attenuation of hearing protection devices. Part I. Research of Working Group 11, Accredited Standards Committee S12, Noise. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 March 1996; 99 (3): 1506–1526. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.414729
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