Occupational Noise Exposure and Hearing Status among Laundry Workers in a Tertiary Care Hospital

IJEP 42(11): 1332-1338 : Vol. 42 Issue. 11 (November 2022)

Bavadharani Venkatesan1, Heramba Ganapathy Selvarajan1* and Bradley McPherson2

1. Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research (Deemed University), Department of Speech Language and Hearing Sciences, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, Porur, Chennai, Tamil Nadu-600 116, India
2. University of Hong Kong, Human Communication, Development and Information Sciences, Faculty of Educa- tion, Hong Kong SAR, China


Equipment involved in the laundering process may emit high levels of noise that can result in hearing loss among hospital laundry workers. The present study aim to monitor changes in laundry noise levels and worker hearing threshold levels over a four-year period. Current noise levels and hearing thresholds were compared with previous noise measurements (2015) and annual audiometric data (2017 and 2018). Audiological evaluation, including immittance and extended high frequency distortion product otoacoustic emission recording, was performed with 31 laundry workers. The laundry noise level (LAeq) ranged from 74.2-81.1 dBA. Acoustic spectrum analysis showed predominant energy levels from low to mid octave band frequencies. Over the years, the average noise level was reduced by 3.6 dBA, which can be attributed to effective maintenance, frequent servicing and replacement of worn-out machines. Audiogram results reveal bilateral/unilateral moderate to moderately severe hearing loss in 6 workers. Extended high frequency DPOAEs were absent in 32 ears at all frequencies and were present in 10 ears only at low frequencies. In order to curb the progression of hearing loss, periodic monitoring of hearing status and training/counselling to wear ear protective devices are advisable irrespective of the ambient noise levels for hospital laundry workers.


Noise level, Earplugs, Occupational hearing loss, Sensorineural hearing loss, Hearing protection device


  1. Barrie, D. 1994. How hospital linen and laudry services are provided. J. Hospital Infection. 27(3):219-235. DOI:10.1016/0195-6701(94)90130-9.
  2. Kumar, M.S., B.R. Goud and B. Joseph. 2014. A study of occupational health and safety measures in the laudry department of a private tertiary reaching hospital in Bengaluru. Indian J. Occup. Env. Medicine. 18(1):13-20. DOI:10.4103/0019-5278. 134951.
  3. Singhal, v., D. Bora and S. Singh. 2011. Prevalence of hepatitis B virus infection in healthcare workers of a tertiary care centre in India and their vaccination status. J. Vaccines Vaccination. 2(2). DOI: 10.4172/2157-7560.1000118.
  4. NIOSH. 1998. Occupational noise exposure revised criteria 1998. Nataional Institute of Occupational Health, Washington D.C. DOI:10.3109/02699 206.2010.490003.
  5. Sriwattanatamma, P. and P. Breysse. 2000. Comparison of NIOSH noise criteria and OSHA bearing conservation criteria. American J. Ind. Medicine. 37(4):334-338.
  6. Elias, S., G. Ljaduola and O. Sofola. 2003. Noise-induced hearing loss in laundry workers in Lagos. Nigerian Medical Practitioner. 44(1):3-6.
  7. Fontoura, F.P., et al. 2014. Effects of noise on hearing of hospital laundry workers. Revista CEFAC. 16(2):395-403. Available at : http://www.scielo.br/pdf/rcefac/v16n2/en_1982-0216-rcefac-16-2-0395. pdf.
  8. Asaritaminaziah, H. and A.S. Marwanis. 2018. Noise exposure and hearing symptoms among laundry workers and mechanical cutters in a teaching hospitals. J. Occup. Safety Health. 15(1):35-42. Available at : http://www. niosh. com. my/images/Journal/2018/Article/2018-JOSHFULL-Article-4-June-2018-39-46.pdf.
  9. NIOSH. 1996. Preventing occupational hearing loss a practicle guide. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Washington D.C. DOI:10.1097/00003446-199708000-00015.
  10. Glaser, R.H. 1997. Preventing occupational hearing loss-A practical guide. Ear Hearing. 18(4):352-353.
  11. Neitzel, R. and N. Seixas. 2005. The effectiveness of hearing protection among construction workers. J. Occup. Env. Hygiene. 2(4):227-238. DOI:10. 1080/15459620590932154.
  12. Frederiksen, T., et al. 2017. Noise-reduced hearing loss-A preventable disease? Results of a 10 year longitudinal study of workers exposed to occupational noise. Noise Health. 19(87):103-111. DOI:10.4103/nah.NAH-100-16.
  13. OSHA. 1970. Occupational safety and health standards : Occupational health and environmental control. Occupational noise exposure standard no. 1910.95. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Department of Labour, Washington, D.C. Available at : https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.95.
  14. Clark, J.G. 1981. Uses and abuses of hearing loss classification. Asha. 23(7):493-500.
  15. Singh, D., et al. 2009. Quality control in lichen and laundry service at a tertiary care teaching hospital in India. Int. J. Health Sci., 3(1):33-44.
  16. Prashanth, M.K. and V. Sridhar. 2008. The relationship between noise frequency components
    and physical physiological and psychological effects of industrial workers. Noise Health. 10(40):90-98.
  17. Ologe, F.E., et al. 2008. Deterioration of noise-induced hearing loss among bottling factory workers. J. Laryngol. Otol., 12(8):786-794. DOI:10.10 17/S00Z2215107000242.
  18. Kirchner, D.B., et al. 2012. Occupational noise induced hearing loss. J. Occup. Env. Medicine. 54(1):106-108. DOI:10.1097/JOM.ObO13e318 242677d.
  19. Balasubramanya, B., et al. 2016. Staff working in ancillary departments at a tertiary care hospital in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India : How healthy are they? Indian J. Occup. Env. Medicine. 20(1):44-47. DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.18.844.
  20. Miller, J.A.L., et al. 2006. Low-level otoacoustic emissions may predict susceptibility to noise-induced hearing loss. J. Acoustical Soc. America. 120(1):280-296. DOI:10.1121/1.2204437.