Title page for ETD etd-08172009-160422

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Fonseca, Antonio A.
URN etd-08172009-160422
Title Hearing Assessment of Forest Loggers
Degree Master of Science in Industrial Engineering (M.S.I.E.)
Department Construction Management and Industrial Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Aghazadeh, Fereydoun Committee Chair
de Hoop, Cornelis Committee Member
Ikuma, Laura Committee Member
  • noise
  • hearing threshold
  • forest loggers
  • hearing protection
Date of Defense 2009-07-10
Availability unrestricted
Forest logging is the process in which trees are cut down for forest management and/or

timber harvest. According to OSHA, logging is the most dangerous occupation in the United

States. It consistently represents one of the most hazardous industries, with a fatality rate more

than 21 times higher than the rate for all workers in the United States. Yet, little research has

been performed to determine the long term effect of noise on forest loggers. OSHA regulations

state that the maximum permissible hearing in an 8 hour shift should not exceed 90 dB.

Occupational noise exposure is recognized as a primary factor on permanent hearing loss

(OSHA, 2007). The objective of this study is to determine whether long term hearing loss in

forest loggers is associated with noise emitted by logging equipment.

This study compares the differences in hearing thresholds of the participants, applying

the OSHA age correction tables for audiograms (OSHA, 2008). These tables present the hearing

threshold of a normal population at ages ranging from 20 to 60 years. Hearing threshold shift is

determined by subtracting the hearing threshold of each participant from age corrected hearing

threshold as defined by OSHA (2008) for each specific age. These individuals had never

experienced any type of acute or chronic hearing loss. Participants were also separated into age

groups of 10 year intervals (20 to 29, 30 to 39, 40 to 49, and 50 to 59) and experience groups of

10 year intervals (1 to 10, 11 to 20, 21 to 30, and 31 to 40).

The hearing tests on forest loggers determined that at 4000 Hz, the mean hearing

threshold of the participants was significantly higher than the rest of the frequencies.

Furthermore, a significant increase in hearing threshold between the participant population and

the hearing threshold of a normal population was also determined. The hearing threshold shifts at

1000, 2000, and 4000 Hz were of 4.9, 9.5 and 18.0 dB respectively. A significant decrease in the

hearing threshold (of 3.4 dB) was found between those participants who wore hearing protection

and those who did not.

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