Aim To determine the sources of noise exposure among police dog handlers and to examine whether these levels might lead to noise-induced hearing loss.
Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study at four Royal Air Force bases using a noise survey, a postal questionnaire and medical record review. The noise survey was conducted following task analysis. We surveyed police dog handlers and a comparison group of police who had never been dog handlers, using a postal questionnaire on noise exposures and confounders. Audiometric and otological data were extracted from medical records.
Results The noise survey revealed significant exposures due to dogs, travelling in vans and aircraft noise during foot patrol. The overall response rate to the questionnaire was 56% (29 police dog handlers, 24 police officers). Five subjects (9.4%) had age-corrected hearing loss exceeding 10 dB, averaged over the 4 and 6 kHz frequencies, affecting the left ear only, but there were no differences between dog handlers and controls.
Conclusion Although the measured noise exposures of police dog handlers did not exceed current legal limits, the noise levels at times are such that the proposed Physical Agents (Noise) Directive has implications for employers who use dogs for security purposes.
- noise-induced hearing loss
- police dog