By Arezes, P.M.; Miguel, A.S.
Annals of Occupational Hygiene
Objectives: Although hearing protectors must be used as a temporary solution, their choice should take into account several aspects, such as ergonomic features, associated with this device. The present study aims to analyse the relationship between the acoustical attenuation efficiency and other aspects related to the comfort afforded by hearing protectors and, consequently, their acceptability when used in industrial noisy environments. Methods: An evaluation of comfort was performed using a questionnaire, completed by 20 workers. Several scales related to the subjective feeling of comfort were used to quantify the comfort index of a given protector. Simultaneously, the time of usage of each protector was selfrecorded by each subject. To test the relationship between the comfort index and the time during which protectors were used, a two-way analysis of variance (two-way ANOVA) was applied. Results and conclusions: The results obtained seem to demonstrate that there are significant differences between catalogued and effective attenuation. Protectors with less catalogued attenuation, but with higher acceptability, i.e. which were more comfortable, tended to be more efficient than protectors with a higher catalogued attenuation, but which were less comfortable. Finally, it must be emphasized that high efficiency can only be achieved through the attainment of an adequate balance between the range of parameters likely to determine its usage.