Evaluation of Human Performance

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Authors: Atul R. Deshmukh, Ph.D.
Henry Dorsey
Sehchang Hah, PhD.
Kenneth A. Schulz, Ph.D.
Jill Sharra
Tanya Yuditsky, PhD.

Hah, S., Yuditsky, T., Schulz, K. A., Dorsey, H., Deshmukh, A. R., & Sharra, J. (2009). Evaluation of human performance while wearing respirators (DOT/FAA/TC-09/10). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.


The goal of this study was to assess the feasibility of respirator use in Air Traffic Control and Technical Operations. We evaluated several models of Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) and N95 respirators for usability, effects on human performance, and effects on the wearer’s well-being. We found that binoculars could not be used with any of the PAPRs. Wearing a PAPR affected communication, but the characteristics of the respirator, especially the sound level and frequency spectrum of the noise, played a significant role in determining the extent of the effect and the subjective experience of wearing it. The accuracy levels of face-toface communication were below those that were considered to be minimally acceptable. For the N95 respirators, we found negative effects on face-to-face communication and observed obstructiveness during simulated maintenance.