Hearing protectors' comfort evaluation in the laboratory


  • Said Ezzaf Étudiant à la maitrise de recherche en génie mécanique à l'Université de Sherbrooke
  • Olivier Valentin Associé de recherche
  • Alain Berry Professeur à l'université de Sherbrooke
  • Philippe-Aubert Gauthier Professeur
  • Alessia Negrini Chercheuse IRSST
  • Djamal Berbiche Statisticien senior


In industrialized countries, high noise levels negatively affect the hearing system of thousands of workers. To protect them, Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs), such as earplugs, are used. However, HPDs do not sufficiently protect workers from noise-induced hearing loss since they are not worn at all or not worn consistently and/ or correctly, because of the discomfort they induce. The term “comfort” refers to a global perception characterizing the balance between four dimensions (physical, functional, acoustical, and psychological) associated with the relationship between the user and his/her earplugs in a given work environment. Several laboratory studies were carried out on the perception of HPDs comfort, and the related tests were mostly carried out in quiet environments. Only two laboratory studies on HPDs comfort were carried out in a noisy environment, but only one constant noise was used. Therefore, the characteristics of background noise have not been investigated in the laboratory evaluation of HPDs comfort.

The main objectives of this laboratory study were to (1) evaluate the physical, acoustical, functional, and psychological comfort of earplugs, and (2) study the effect of the sound environment on those dimensions of comfort. A sample of 24 participants tested three different earplugs in two different reproduced sound environments. The tests were carried out using questionnaires to assess HPDs comfort, speech in noise detection tests, and alarm detection tests in three sessions.

Statistical analyses were performed on longitudinal data using SPSS software. The results showed (1) no differences in the effect of the comfort of three earplugs, except for functional comfort; (2) differences in participants’ perception of speech in noise and alarm detection tests. More specifically, HPDs comfort is affected by the frequency content of the sound environment.

Other multivariable analyses are underway, the results of which will be presented to AWC22.

Author Biographies

Said Ezzaf, Étudiant à la maitrise de recherche en génie mécanique à l'Université de Sherbrooke

Université de Sherbrooke

Olivier Valentin, Associé de recherche

Université McGill

Alain Berry, Professeur à l'université de Sherbrooke

Université de Sherbrooke

Philippe-Aubert Gauthier, Professeur


Alessia Negrini, Chercheuse IRSST


Djamal Berbiche, Statisticien senior

Université de Sherbrooke

Additional Files



How to Cite

Ezzaf S, Valentin O, Berry A, Gauthier P-A, Negrini A, Berbiche D. Hearing protectors’ comfort evaluation in the laboratory. Canadian Acoustics [Internet]. 2022 Jul. 5 [cited 2024 Apr. 21];50(3):74-5. Available from: https://jcaa.caa-aca.ca/index.php/jcaa/article/view/3850



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