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February 22, 2017

NIOSH Releases New Sound Level App to Protect Hearing

Ear Protection Required if work exceeds __ hours
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has released a new mobile app for iOS (Apple) devices that measures sound levels in the workplace and provides noise exposure parameters to help reduce occupational noise-induced hearing loss. The goal is to help workers learn about their noise exposure and reduce the chances of hearing loss.

OSHA reports that twenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. An estimated $242 million is spent annually on workers' compensation for hearing loss disability. In one year, U.S. business paid more than $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting workers from noise. NIOSH hopes to help reduce those numbers with it's new Sound Level Meter app.

The app can be used by safety and health professionals and industrial hygienists to assess risks, similar to using a professional sound level meter. Workers can use the app to make informed decisions about potential hearing hazards in the workplace. The app allows users to acquire and display real-time noise exposure data and help promote better hearing health and better prevention efforts. It also contains some basic information about noise and hearing loss prevention. In addition, users can save and share measurement data with others using the device communication and media features.

NIOSH says the Sound Level Meter app can:

  • Raise workers’ awareness about their work environment
  • Help workers make informed decisions about the potential hazards to their hearing
  • Serve as a research tool to collect noise exposure data
  • Promote better hearing health and prevention efforts


Why not Android?

NIOSH explains that iOS devices share common hardware and software architecture that is optimized for audio applications. That lets NIOSH verify the app will perform as expected on any iOS device. Android devices are made by many manufacturers with different requirements and specifications for microphones, audio/signal processing chips and software tools. As a result, testing and verification of the accuracy and functionality of an Android-based app in the NIOSH lab is not currently possible.

NIOSH Disclaimer: Professional sound level meters must comply with a host of acoustical and electrical tests to meet national and international standards. As of today, no smartphone or smartphone-based app has met the requirement of such standards. Although
the accuracy and functionality of this app was tested and verified at the NIOSH Acoustics Laboratory (over a specific testing range), this app does not comply with any national standard.

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