Evidence has been accumulating towards the impact of noise induced hearing loss among employees in occupations that are not traditionally monitored for occupational noise exposure. Many of these non-traditional occupations are exposed to intermittent doses of noise on duty and involve two way communication devices or other noise sources on a daily basis. Traditional noise dosimetry and sound level measurements often do not take into account all noise entering the ear. UW-Whitewater Assistant Professor Lynn Gilbertson, along with Dr. Donna Vosburgh and Timothy Klein, are working to develop a prototype that will more effectively measure noise levels in the ear canal.
The interest in the field of occupational noise exposure developed from an invitation to collaborate. During Professor Gilbertson’s first semester on the UW-W campus, Dr. Donna Vosburgh, an assistant professor in the department of Occupational & Environmental Health and Safety, approached her to conduct a study bridging their two research specialties. Combining their expertise in hearing science and occupational safety, they developed a project investigating noise exposure among police officers. It became evident that the technology for measuring occupational noise exposure among these individuals was insufficient. Gilbertson and Vosburgh subsequently sought the expertise of Tim Klein, an electrical engineer, and further catapulted the project toward prototype development.
Gilbertson credits WiSys as extremely helpful in supporting efforts to fund the project through diligent responses to questions and essential critical feedback. She explains that WiSys connected their creative team with an affiliated engineering group, 3DC out of the Fox Valley campus, to help reduce the fabrication costs, leaving more funding support for other portions of the project. Gilbertson and team have thus been able to focus on the science and development rather than the business and marketing.Looking forward, she hopes to continue developing a niche investigating occupations that are not traditionally monitored for occupational noise exposure. This will be essential in figuring out how to best serve their needs regarding hearing conservation and two way communication while on the job