Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Public Health (M.S.P.H.)

Degree Granting Department

Public Health

Major Professor

Steven P. Mlynarek, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas Bernard, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rene Salazar, Ph.D.


Occupational Noise Exposure, Hearing Loss, Noise, Hearing Protection, Landscaping


Every year, twenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work. Last year, U.S. businesses paid more than $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting workers from noise. (OSHA, 2016). In the United States ten million people have some kind of noise related hearing loss (CDC, 2016) and noise damage to the ear may not be detected until it is great enough to cause hearing impairment.

Grounds keeper’s functions consist of a variety of activities that require the use of powered tools such as mowers, riding mowers, leaf blowers, pressure washers, trimmers/edgers and chainsaws. OSHA has stated that “noise is a potential hazard for most jobs that involve abrasive or high-power machinery, impact of rapidly moving parts (product or machinery), or power tools”. (OSHA, 2016) in addition to this, their job is mostly outdoors exposing them to the added noise of traffic, construction and people.

The purpose of this research study was to obtain occupational noise exposure data for groundskeepers who use powered equipment to do their job. The groundskeepers who participated in this research study were volunteers and worked in a University campus in the State of Florida. Personal noise dosimeters were used to collect the data in this study. Exposure information was collected over 6 days for 8-hour work shifts during the summer months of the year. Dosimetry was done on a maximum of five groundskeepers per monitoring day, ranging from 1 to 5 employees per day depending on availability. Results of this study indicate that the highest noise exposures occurred on groundskeepers in charge of mowing by means of a riding mower.

Results of this study indicate that the highest 8-hr TWA noise exposure for the groundskeepers (GK) 1 and 2 occurred the first day of testing which was a Monday. Using the OSHA PEL measurement method GK1 exposure was 98.5 dBA, GK2 was 97.6 dBA. Using the same measurement method the highest exposure to GK3: 89.2 dBA, occurred on day five of the assessment. For GK4 the highest exposure occurred on the third day of testing with an exposure measurement of 86.1 dBA. GK5 was only assessed one day and his exposure measured at 84.5 dBA. GK6 AND GK7 were evaluated two days and their highest exposures measured at GK6: 89.3 dBA and GK7: 85.7 dBA.

Using the OSHA Hearing Conversation Act measurement method, GK1 was exposed to excessive noise levels (>85 dBA as an 8-hr TWA) on five days of the six day assessment period. GK2 was exposed to hazardous noise levels on all four days he was assessed. GK3 and GK4 exceeded the OSHA HCA standard one of the two days they were monitored. GK 5 did not have noise exposure levels above 85 dBA on the day he volunteered for monitoring. GK6 had exposures over 85 dBA on both days he volunteered to be monitored. Finally, GK7 exceeded the 85 dBA limit on one of the two days they volunteered for this study.