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Ann Occup Hyg. 2002 Jul;46(5):455-63.

Noise exposure and hearing loss among student employees working in university entertainment venues.

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  • 1Institute of Occupational Health, University of Birmingham, University Road West, Edgbaston, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Most studies to date on sound levels in entertainment establishments have concentrated on exposure levels for the attending public, rather than employees who may be at greater risk of hearing loss. Of particular concern are young employees. The aim of this pilot study was to (i) estimate typical sound levels in different areas where amplified music was played, (ii) measure temporary threshold shift (TTS) and (iii) estimate the dependence of hearing threshold shifts on measured noise levels.

METHODS:

This study focused on students working part-time (up to 16 h/week) in music bars and discotheques in a university entertainment venue. All 28 staff were invited to participate in the study. Pre- and post-exposure audiometry was used to determine hearing threshold at both high and low frequencies. Personal dosemeters and static measurements were made to assess noise levels and frequency characteristics. A questionnaire was used to determine patterns of noise exposure and attitudes to noise levels and hearing loss.

RESULTS:

Of the 28 student employees working in the three areas, 14 (50%) agreed to take part in the study, giving 21 pre- and post-shift audiograms. The mean personal exposure levels for security staff were higher than those of bar staff, with both groups exceeding 90 dB(A). The maximum peak pressure reading for security staff was 124 dB. Although TTS values were moderate, they were found to be highly significant at both low and high frequencies and for both ears. Twenty-nine per cent of subjects showed permanent hearing loss of more than 30 dB at either low or high frequencies. The correlation between TTS and personal exposure was higher at 4 kHz than the low and high frequencies.

CONCLUSIONS:

Contemporary music may be an important yet little considered contributor to total personal noise exposure, especially amongst young employees. Employees need to be better informed of risks of hearing loss and the need to report changes in hearing acuity. Suggestions are made on strategies for improving the assessment of noise exposure in entertainment venues.

PMID:
12176760
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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