The six were given the Innovative Research Award by the National Occupational Research Agenda.
The project, Effectiveness of Training and Reinforcement on Hearing Protective Devices Use Among Construction Workers, is credited with helping to stem noise-induced hearing loss among construction workers. The four-year study of nearly 300 construction workers at eight construction sites near Seattle was aimed at assessing the effectiveness of a three-component intervention in motivating construction workers to effectively wear hearing protection devices during periods of high noise exposure.
The three interventions were:
- A one-hour hearing conservation training.
- Use of an innovative new noise level indicator.
- Reinforcement toolbox trainings.
The noise level indicator was a prototype, smaller than a cell phone, which provided real-time noise levels to construction workers by flashing different colored lights and vibrating at high noise levels. It was developed in conjunction with Quest Technologies Inc. and designed to be worn on workers' lapels for maximum visibility.
The workers were separated in terms of which of the three interventions they received. The study found the only group that sustained statistically significant positive changes during the entire follow-up period was the one that had all three interventions. "Overall, these results indicate that the research improved hearing protective device use among the participating workers, and potentially reduced their risk of developing noise induced hearing loss during their career," according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
The study has led to the commercial launch of a modified version of the product -- the 3M Noise Badge -- which has received a health and safety award. "The commercial availability of the Noise Badge represents an important and tangible step towards preventing noise induced hearing loss among U.S. workers," NIOSH said. "The incorporation of the noise level indicator into this research design was innovative, and the subsequent commercial availability of a modified version of the device represents an excellent example of research-to-practice."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 22, 2011
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