Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2014

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Occupational and Environmental Health

First Advisor

Anthony, Renee

First Committee Member

O'Shaughnessy, Patrick T

Second Committee Member

Fethke, Nathan B


Previous research evaluating restaurant worker exposure used environmental sound levels, but this does not take into account the temporal variability of restaurant worker exposure. To determine the actual personal exposure of restaurant workers, Quest Noise-Pro or Quest Edge dosimeters were placed on restaurant workers at six downtown Iowa City restaurants. At each participating locally-owned restaurant, workers classified as cooks, counter attendants, bartenders, and waiters participated. A time-weighted average (TWA) exposure per participant per shift was computed using both OSHA and NIOSH criteria for a total of 180 full-shift exposure measurements. Exposures were evaluated by season (when school is in session or not), restaurant type (counter service versus sit-down with bar), job title (cooks versus others), and time of week (weekday versus weekend) to characterize factors associated with high personal noise exposures. This work focused on day time exposures of restaurant employees in locally owned restaurants in a college town and determined the risks of noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). The results determined if restaurant workers are exposed to hazardous noise and whether exposures differ by job title, season, day of week and restaurant type.

No TWA measurements exceeded the OSHA 8-hr TWA permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 90 dBA. Restaurant worker NIOSH TWAs ranged from 69-90 dBA with a mean (SD) of 80 dBA (4 dBA). Only 7.8% of all full-shift exposure data exceeded the NIOSH 8-hour 85 dBA. The highest worker TWAs were recorded during the period when the local university was in session and at the full-service restaurants: these workers were cooks during the weekends. Fourteen TWA measurements exceeded the NIOSH 8-hr TWA REL of 85 dBA. The NIOSH TWA exposure estimates significantly increased for full-service restaurants (p<0.001), cooks (p=0.003), during the fall semester (p=0.003), and during the weekend (p=0.048). Multiple Linear regression analysis suggested that restaurant type, job title, and season have a significant effect on restaurant worker noise exposures (p<0.001).

Although restaurant employee noise exposures are within the OSHA hearing conservation standard limits, this study demonstrated that 7.8% (approximately 733,200) restaurant workers might be at risk for overexposure to noise based on NIOSH criteria. Intervention studies for the prevention of NIHL need to understand the impact of job title, restaurant type, season, and day of week on restaurant worker noise exposure. Additionally, all sampling was completed during the daytime and future research should evaluate restaurant worker noise exposures into the night time and early morning hours.


noise, restaurant


vii, 76 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 71-76).


Copyright 2014 Deirdre Renee Green