Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Public Health (M.S.P.H.)

Degree Granting Department

Public Health

Major Professor

Steven P. Mlynarek, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Yehia Hammad, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas Bernard, Ph.D.


Occupational Noise Exposure, Hearing Loss, Noise, Hearing Protection


Noise exposure is a common hazard to workforce in general although at varying degrees depending on the occupation, as many workers are exposed for long periods of time to potentially hazardous noise.

Every year, twenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work. In 2015 U.S. businesses paid over $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting workers from noise. (OSHA, 2016). There may be a direct or indirect consequence of the possibilities of overexposure to noise notwithstanding the compulsory hearing protection requests for the occupations with potential hazards, and these exposures usually arise from the various types of heavy repair equipment and tools related to the job functions.

In the United States ten million people have noise related hearing loss (CDC, 2016) and damage done to the ear is not noticed until earing diminishes significantly.

One of the noisiest occupations there are include the flight ground crews and flight maintenance personnel otherwise categorized as Ground Operation Workers. These categories of workers have varying functions in the noisiest area at the ramp, and this exposes them to noise that could lead to hearing impairment or permanent ear damage.

This study was focused on workers on the ramps at the international airport of a large US city. These workers also are known as ground handling staff, and these employees perform different tasks on the airline ramp, which include unloading luggage from the airline, picking up and moving luggage from the belt room, and to loading baggage onto the airline.

This study was conducted using personal dosimeters which were calibrated before and after each sampling event out on four different employees over a period of four days and the collected data were downloaded to a personal computer for further analysis.

From the results of this study, the highest noise exposures occurred on a ground operation worker 3 (GOW3) with an 8-hr TWA exposure of 85.6 dBA using OSHA PEL measurement specifications and this occurred on the fourth day of sampling which was a Saturday. The second highest exposure occurred on ground operation worker 1 (GOW1) on the fourth day with an 8-hr TWA exposure of 85.0 dBA. For ground operations worker 2 (GOW2) and ground operation worker 4 (GOW4), the highest exposure occurred on the second day with 79.8 dBA and 73.4 dBA as their time weighted averages, respectively. None of the workers exposures exceeded the OSHA permissible exposure limit of 90 dBA. The United States Navy uses the OSHA noise standard to evaluate noise exposure on ships and all Navy installations.

According to University of South Florida institutional review Board, this study is categorized as a program evaluation that has no intervention with human subjects. The workers that participated in this study did so voluntarily.

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