Lyda McCartin

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Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is an effect on an individual’s hearing due to exposure to excessive noise. An individual should receive less than eighty-five decibels of sound over an eight hour time period to ensure their hearing is not damaged. Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) is a population which uses tools throughout a shift, most notably sirens, radios, and firearms, which may contribute to overexposure of sound. This study examines the perceptions of LEOs on the consequences of being subjected to noise. This study seeks to understand noise sources a LEO may encounter and their perceptions about preventing NIHL. This study involves qualitative data consisting of a set of questions answered by 76 Law Enforcement Officers. The survey asked questions about job-related noise sources and LEOs concerns about wearing hearing protection. The data may be beneficial to consider awareness education about damaging the officer’s hearing due to noise exposure. The study found that while most officers were concerned about losing their hearing, the officers were more afraid that hearing protection would inhibit their ability to hear their surroundings properly, placing them at greater risk for injury or death. It was clear more training and education in the field of NIHL may be beneficial, as 91 percent of the responses indicated they had not received any training about hearing loss. Further research should be completed to understand if there is a way to mediate radio sounds, as radio was the most frequently reported noise source concern.

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