Noise Exposures Aboard Catcher/Processor Fishing Vessels

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BackgroundCommercial fishing workers have extended work shifts and potential for 24 hr exposures to high noise. However, exposures in this industry have not been adequately characterized.MethodsNoise exposures aboard two catcher/processors (C/P) were assessed using dosimetry, sound-level mapping, and self-reported activities and hearing protection device (HPD) use. These data were combined to estimate work shift, non-work, and 24 hr overall exposure levels using several metrics. The length of time during which HPDs were worn was also used to calculate the effective protection received by crew members.ResultsNearly all workers had work shift and 24 hr noise levels that exceeded the relevant limits. After HPD use was accounted for, half of the 24 hr exposures remained above relevant limits. Non-work-shift noise contributed nothing to 24 hr exposure levels. HPDs reduced the average exposure by about 10 dBA, but not all workers wore them consistently.ConclusionsThe primary risk of hearing loss aboard the monitored vessels comes from work shift noise. Smaller vessels or vessels with different layouts may present more risk of hearing damage from non-work periods. Additional efforts are needed to increase use of HPDs or implement noise controls.

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