Hearing protectors for drivers of vehicles

Project No. BIA 4024


completed 03/1996


Hearing protectors may decrease the audibility of acoustic warning signals. Therefore, until 1996, the use of hearing protectors was not permitted while steering a vehicle in road traffic. But according to the European Directive (86/188/EEC) "on the protection of workers from risks related to exposure to noise at work" the employer has to offer suitable hearing protectors for working in noise areas. Noise areas are areas where the daily individual noise exposure of a worker exceeds 85 dB(A). Vehicles, when operated correctly, are generally not considered to be noise areas. In some vehicles, however, especially vehicles licensed as work machines, rating levels sometimes exceed 85 dB(A). The activities within this project focus on noise areas in or at road vehicles where the steering takes place. The target set by the German ministry for labour and social affairs and that for transport was to select specific suitable hearing protectors.


The expert commitee for transportation let procedures be developed by the BG institute for occupational safety (BIA) to select suitable hearing protectors. In the Federal Republic of Germany such hearing protectors can be used by drivers in the road system when needed.


A pre-selection of suitable hearing protectors is obtained by calculations based on the Zwicker-method ISO R 352, Part B, using spectra of typical workplace noises. For each concerned employee a final listening check is carried out at the workplace, under operational conditions by the person responsible for safety. This check provides information on the individual suitability of the hearing protector. A certificate has to be issued for the use of hearing protectors in German road traffic. The certificate contains information on the driver, the employer, the listening check, the vehicle, the sound pressure level in the driver´s cab, the hearing protector, and the responsible Berufsgenossenschaft (accident insurance institution).

Further informations:

Last Update:



Financed by:
  • Hauptverband der gewerblichen Berufsgenossenschaften (HVBG)
Research institution(s):
  • Berufsgenossenschaftliches Institut für Arbeitssicherheit - BIA

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:



Lärm, Persönliche Schutzausrüstung, Transport und Verkehr

Description, key words:

ear-muffs, ear-plugs, signal audibility, masking of signals, road traffic, acoustic warning signals, noise area, increased risk of accidents, selection of hearing protectors, Zwicker method, ISO R 352, final listening check