Key Takeaways

- Occupational hearing loss is a severe problem that affects millions of U.S. workers every year. However, the high cost of professional-grade sound measurement instruments limits access for workers and many businesses.

- Many sound measurement applications for smart devices have been developed as potential alternatives to costly sound measurement instruments.

- This article reviews the current literature on the sound measurement applications with two objectives: summarize the accuracy of various smartphone sound measurement applications and identify applications with features suitable for occupational exposure assessment.

Noise is typically defined as an unpleasant, unwanted or hazardous sound (Murphy & Harshman, 2012). Virtually everyone is exposed to noise, but many often underestimate the adverse health consequences of excessive long-term noise exposure such as increased situational danger and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Hearing loss may contribute to incidents and injuries, as this perceptual loss may prevent a person from recognizing warning signals or imminent danger associated with the use of equipment or tools (Hager, 2002). According to NIOSH (2019), more than 17% of the working population has experienced hearing loss, with approximately one in four of these hearing losses being work-related. As noise exposure can pose such a significant health risk to the working population, it is critical to properly assess workers’ exposure by accurately measuring noise exposure, then applying appropriate abatement measures with engineering controls of the noise source prioritized.

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