Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2019

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/29/2020

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Industrial Engineering

First Advisor

Thomas, Geb

First Committee Member

Peters, Thomas M

Second Committee Member

Fethke, Nathan B


Twenty-two million US citizens are exposed to hazardous noise at work each year, putting them at risk for noise induced hearing loss. Noise induced hearing loss is preventable, cumulative, and irreversible with net economic impact estimated at $123 billion. While agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have regulations in place to reduce noise induced hearing loss, these regulations are rarely enforced for agricultural workers. These workers have a low rate of hearing protection usage, with several studies finding that almost half of farmers never use hearing protection devices. Additionally, farmers have twice the hearing loss in higher frequencies and three times in mid-range frequencies than non-farmers. Use of hearing protection can reduce noise induced hearing loss, and agricultural workers are interested in increasing their usage. This makes them a promising group to target with a hearing protection intervention.

This paper describes a system that combines a smartphone with a USB based noise dosimeter that can read within +/- 2 A-weighted decibels of a Class 2 sound level meter providing daily noise exposure monitoring. This device is worn by the agricultural worker throughout a work day, collecting location, accelerometer, and audio data. The data is then transferred onto the server and presented to the agricultural worker using a locally hosted website, giving personalized data of loud noise exposures that can be understood without the need for a safety specialist. The dosimeter’s data allows the agricultural worker to explore what sound pressure levels they are exposed to and get an estimate of their total noise exposure. The GPS, paired with audio clips of loud noises, allows the agricultural worker to determine what activities put them at risk of noise induced hearing loss, which are good indications of where to place hearing protection devices.

The system was tested on a farm, comparing its output with several reference instruments. A-weighted, 1-second averaged sound pressure levels, GPS, and accelerometer data were collected while performing a variety of tasks indoors and outdoors. The smartphone’s external noise dosimeter read within +/- 2 dBA of the Class 2 reference dosimeter 59% of the time. The GPS devices had an average error of sub-4 meters between and the accelerometers had a mean absolute error of less than 0.1 g.


ix, 57 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 48-52).


Copyright © 2019 Oliver Stroh