Hearing protection use in manufacturing workers: a qualitative study

Noise Health. 2012 Jul-Aug;14(59):202-9. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.99896.


Occupational noise is a significant contributor to disabling hearing loss worldwide. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) has resulted in huge human and economic consequences costing New Zealand approximately $53M annually and rising. A high proportion of hearing loss claims are made by workers in the manufacturing sector. Hearing protection devices (HPDs) are used together with engineering and administrative controls to minimize noise exposure and to prevent hearing loss. Unfortunately, inconsistent and improper use of HPDs has hindered efforts to prevent NIHL. The purpose of this study was to understand the factors that influence the use of HPDs amongst a group of manufacturing workers in New Zealand. A purposive sample of twenty-five workers was recruited to take part in semi-structured interviews. The open-ended questions were aimed at exploring the participants' knowledge, attitude, beliefs, and behavior towards noise and HPDs. The data were analyzed using conventional content analysis and key themes emerged in relation to HPD use. Themes that emerged from the interviews either supported good hearing protection behavior or acted as barriers against it. Five major themes, (perception of noise, hearing preservation, reluctance to use HPDs, workplace interaction, and value of hearing) and sub-themes described various factors that influence hearing protection use. Both personal and environmental factors influence the use of HPDs. Based on this study, personal and environmental factors need to be targeted for further research using ecological models to develop interventions that promote HPD use amongst workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Auditory Perception
  • Ear Protective Devices* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand
  • Noise, Occupational / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control*