From 1953 to 1995 the usage rate of hearing protective devices (HPD) was tracked at a paper mill, a shipyard, and in selected areas of forestry work. For each work period, observations were made of HPD use among workers. In the paper mill, the usage rate increased steadily from 1965. In 1990, 39% of workers used HPDs full-time. At the shipyard, the usage rate remained low up to the mid-1980s, but thereafter the proportion of full-time users rose to 70%. A similar trend was noted in forest workers, with the full-time use at 97% by the 1990s. Due to the increased usage rate in all measured industries, the mean effective noise level at the ear has decreased to below 85 dB.