Student Research: Maggie Trabeau

, Industrial Hygiene (IH), 2006
Faculty Advisor: Noah S. Seixas

An Evaluation of "Train-The-Trainer" vs. Expert Training Modalities for Hearing Protection Use in Construction


Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is one of the most commonly found diseases within the construction industry. Because of the nature of construction work, it is often very hard to use engineering controls to reduce worker’s noise exposure. As a result, the prevention of NIHL among construction workers largely relies on the workers to be effectively trained to wear hearing protection devices when they are exposed to hazardous noise levels. In order to train a large number of workers in a given industry, a train-the-trainer format is often used. Although frequently used, the effectiveness of the train-the-trainer approach has not been adequately evaluated.

This study compares training effectiveness of a “train-the-trainer” approach with an expert trainer using the same training materials for NIHL prevention. Construction workers recruited from several regional construction companies were randomized to the train-the-trainer or the expert trainer modalities. The effectiveness of training was then assessed and the modalities compared by determining the level of participant satisfaction, and the change in knowledge, attitudes toward HPD use, intent to use HPDs, and use of HPDs when exposed to hazardous noise levels. Assessment of each of these outcome measures was done using surveys administered immediately before the training session, immediately after, and 2 months later. Observational on HPD use was also collected in order to validate self-reported use of HFD on activity cards and the surveys. Additional variables thought to have an impact on the overall success of a training program were also measured.

Results of this study showed that the hearing conservation training increased workers’ knowledge about noise exposures, improved attitudes about HPDs, and increased self-reported intent to wear HPDs, and use of HPDs. However, results of the validation study found that the intent to wear HPDs, and HPD use reported in the surveys did not correlate well with use reported on the worker’s activity cards. Despite differences in program fidelity and trainer credibility between the training modalities, the effectiveness of the hearing conservation program was not found to be dependent on training modality.