Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Environmental, Agricultural & Occupational Health

First Committee Member

Dr. Chandran Achutan

Second Committee Member

Dr. Lorena Baccaglini

Third Committee Member

Mr. John Hauser

Fourth Committee Member

Mr. Mark Theis



Introduction: Campus workers are exposed to loud noise from boilers, chillers, generators, snow blowers, leaf blowers, helicopters, utility vehicles, laboratory animals etc. No studies have looked at characterizing noise exposures among campus workers to see who needed to be enrolled in the Hearing Conservation Program (HCP).

Goal: The goal of this study was to determine which employees needed to be enrolled in a HCP.

Methods: This was a cross sectional study conducted among campus workers. We identified utility plant workers, comparative medicine workers, landscaping crew, security officers and facility staff who used utility vehicles as employees potentially exposed to excessive noise. We administered a questionnaire to understand workers’ beliefs and attitudes towards their hearing conservation. In a second questionnaire, we collected non-occupational noise exposure and work history. We also performed area and full shift personal noise dosimetry sampling. Personal noise dosimetry data was compared to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Action Level (AL) and Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL).

Results: Out of 76 employees, 30 volunteered to participate in the study. Twenty-seven volunteers (90%) responded to the questionnaires and all 30 participated in the personal dosimetry sampling. Ten employees responded that they used hearing protective devices (HPDs) around loud noise and 16 (61.5%) denied their use. Some examples of loud noise sources were generators (89.7 dB), reverse osmosis system (92.6 dB), QuinsvTM compressor (92.3 dB) and backpack leaf blowers (92.6 dB). Workers in four out of five departments exceeded the NIOSH REL of 85dBA. Workers in utility plants exceeded the OSHA AL as well.

Conclusion: Based on OSHA regulations, only utility plants workers should be enrolled in the HCP as they exceed OSHA AL. However, best practices dictate that workers in the utility plants, comparative medicine, and landscaping crew who exceeded the NIOSH REL also be enrolled in the hearing loss prevention program.

Impact of the Project: This project will protect campus workers from hearing loss by enrolling them in a hearing conservation program. The program will assess workers’ exposures to noise, provide them an annual hearing test, and educate them on the selection and use of hearing protector devices.