Abstracts: ISEE 21st Annual Conference, Dublin, Ireland, August 25-29, 2009: Symposium Abstracts
Background and Objective:
Noise emitted by welding equipment is occasionally discussed in research concerning welding workers’ health. However, investigations into noise exposure and its effects among welding workers are scarce. This research sought to study welding workers at several construction factories, using a cross-sectional study design to assess the noise levels when welding operators were at work, which were compared with survey information and hearing tests.
This research studied an exposure group of 86 on-site workers involved in welding and a control group of 63 administration personnel. Noise levels in the welding sits and office were measured by a sound level meter. Hearing thresholds of 500, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 and 6000 Hz were evaluated with pure tone audiometric tests.
The equivalent sound levels at welding sites in the construction industry were generally high (Leq = 82.2 ± 2.0 dB(A)) with peak levels exceeding 100 dB(A), which were significantly higher than that in the office (Leq = 59.5 ± 1.6 dB(A)) (P < 0.001). The average value of the hearing indicator calculated by the three-division method was 35.5 ± 10.5 dB(A) for the worst ear in the exposure group and 24.9 ± 6.4 dB(A) in the control group. From the surveys, smoking, drinking and blood pressure were all found to have a relationship with hearing loss (P < 0.05). The exposure group was at a 5-times greater hearing loss risk than the administration group (95% CI: 2.1–12.2).
Although the average noise level at workplace was kept within the standards stipulated in the country's regulations, 93% of workplaces were found to be without means of protection. This did not conform to the Labor Safety and Health Equipment and Facility Law in Taiwan. Workplaces that were potentially damaging to the hearing of welding workers should take steps to enhance workers’ health.