Noise Exposure Among Federal Wildland Fire Fighters

August 10, 2017

Noise Exposure Among Federal Wildland Fire Fighters

Posted on  by George Broyles , LCDR Corey Butler, CAPT Chuck Kardous

Hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. NIOSH estimates that 22 million U.S. workers encounter noise exposures loud enough to be hazardous.  Wildland fire fighting (vs. urban/ structural fire fighting), aims to suppress grass, brush, or forest fires (see Figure 1).  Wildland fire fighting is considered a high-risk emergency response occupation requiring considerable physical and psychological demands. Wildland fire fighters often work 12 to more than 16 hours per shift for up to 14 consecutive days over a 3- to 9-month period [U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2008].

Figure 1. Wildland fire fighters during various fire suppression activities.

 

Wildland fire fighters often have extreme exposures to many physical agents and occupational hazards [Britton et al., 2013]. Similar to other high-risk occupations, research efforts and occupational safety and health programs have historically focused on identifying and preventing acute injuries and exposures, but less emphasis has been placed on research and prevention programs relating to chronic diseases or injuries such as occupational noise-induced hearing loss.

Although noise exposures and hearing loss among structural fire fighters have been well studied [Hong et al., 2008] and documented [National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 2013), wildland fire fighters have not received the same attention, nor have their noise exposures been empirically researched and studied. Wildland fire fighters may be repeatedly exposed to known sources of noise including chainsaws, aircraft, wood chippers, audio equipment, portable pumps and engine pumps, heavy equipment (e.g., bulldozers), and ambient noise from the wildfire itself.

In an effort to address noise exposures within this population, the United States Forest Service, Technology, and Development Program, in partnership with NIOSH, conducted a 3-year study to assess wildland fire fighters’ noise exposures during training and fire suppression tasks and to identify which jobs put these fire fighters at increased risk for NIHL. A recently published paper by USDA and NIOSH researchers on wildland fire fighters [Broyles et al., 2016] in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America reports on the initial results from the study, characterizes the most hazardous noise sources and job tasks based on personal dosimetry measurements, and provides specific and practical recommendations for protecting the hearing health of these fire fighters.

Noise exposure measurements were collected at 10 different fire locations during the 2014–2015 fire seasons. A total of 174 full-shift personal noise dosimetry measurements were conducted on 156 fire fighters in 14 different wildland fire fighting job categories. Overall, 85 of the 174 measurements were above the NIOSH maximum allowable daily dose.  Almost all masticator/chipper operators, pilots, pump operators, leaf blowers, sawyers and swampers, and bulldozer operators had TWAs that exceeded the NIOSH  recommended exposure level (REL) of 85 dBA (masticators/chippers TWAs reaching 105 dBA, sawyers and swampers TWAs reaching 106 dBA, and bulldozer operator TWAs reaching 112 dBA).  Fire fighters exposed to TWA of 105–106 dBA would exceed their maximum daily limit in just 4–5 minutes.  At 112 dBA, a bulldozer operator exceeded 100% noise dose in 56 seconds.  Bulldozer operators received the highest possible daily noise dose, some exceeding the OSHA maximum daily dose by 20-fold and the NIOSH maximum daily dose by 500-fold. It is interesting to note that four of the bulldozer operators had TWAs well below the NIOSH REL, most likely because they operated in a closed or environmental cabs which isolated the bulldozer operator from much of the noise generated from the heavy equipment.  Figure 2 contains the percentage of fire fighters’ personal dosimetry measurements that exceeded the NIOSH REL or the OSHA permissible exposure level (PEL) based on their specific activities or tasks.

Figure 2. Percentage of dosimetry samples exceeding the OSHA PEL and NIOSH REL per work category.

 

On the basis of these study results, wildland fire fighters may be considered at risk of noise-induced hearing loss. To prevent fire fighters from developing a hearing impairment, NIOSH recommends that all wildland fire fighters be enrolled in a hearing conservation program and that fire agencies establish and maintain fire service specific hearing loss prevention programs. In addition, the authors recommend additional studies to examine targeted approaches to mitigate risk among fire fighters with highest exposures.  See the full list of recommendations and read more about the noise exposures of wildland fire fighters in our recent paper: Noise exposure among federal wildland fire fighters.   If you are a wildland fire fighter or you work with wildland firefighters, please share your experiences with our readers.

George Broyles is a Fire and Fuels Project Leader with the Technology and Development Program, USDA Forest Service.

LCDR Corey Butler is an Occupational Safety and Health Specialist with the NIOSH Western States Division.

CAPT Chuck  Kardous is a senior research engineer with the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology.

READ FULL ARTICLE 

 

Happy BC DAY!

August 6, 2017

August 6, 2017

BC Day

 

From all of us at Custom Protect Ear, Have Fun and Be Safe on BC Day
We hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday. And don’t forget – Protect your hearing!

Personalized Hearing Protection for the Pulp and Paper Industry

July 25, 2017

Personalized Hearing Protection for the Pulp and Paper Industry

Working in the pulp and paper industry, workers are frequently reminded to wear hearing protection and safety glasses. Most manufacturing areas mandate their use, and failure to comply with these rules frequently brings stern warnings or reprimands. Fortunately, the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for sight and sound has almost become second nature to most Paper and Pulp plants. However, there are still some plants that have not found a way to enhance a safe workplace by implementing a hearing conservation program. Specializing in personalized hearing protective, ProtectEar USA has helped many manufacturing companies overcome their performance limitations and safety concerns. We start by assessing the noise levels and working conditions each person faces. then we determine the best protectors for the individual and make appropriate recommendations for optimal productivity, protection, and comfort.

Workers Can Protect Their Hearing with Custom Ear Plugs

Do not wait to experience any of these symptoms before you protect your ears with hearing protection. ProtectEar dB Blockers™ custom fit earplugs are more comfortable and offer superior hearing protection to any disposable earplug. However, did you know that they are more cost effective as well?

You can reduce your hearing protection costs by 60% over five years when an entire facility is fit. dB Blockers™ are more comfortable because there is only one way for them to fit and they made for each individual. They also make it easy for workers to communicate with each other because of our proprietary tuned filter that allows users to hear better with the plugs in than if they take them out.

As a Hearing Protection Manufacturer, it is great to see specific sectors like Pulp & Paper Canada take a stock in Noise Induced Hearing Loss. 

Pulp & Paper

Four steps for reducing workplace noise

 By WSPS

The most obvious impact is noise-induced hearing loss but stress, hypertension, poor sleep and mental health, and physical injury due to communications challenges can all be linked to noise exposure.One in five adults aged 19 to 79 already have mild hearing loss or more in at least one ear. Chances are, with time and continued exposure their hearing will worsen. Statistics like these have prompted the Ontario Ministry of Labour to launch an occupational noise initiative. From April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 inspectors will be looking at how — and how well — employers are protecting workers from noise.

A noise regulation (381/15) passed in July 2016 says employers must follow a “hierarchy of controls” to protect workers. Under this hierarchy, engineering controls and work practices come before personal protective equipment (PPE), such as earplugs and ear muffs. Engineering solutions are the better option because they control noise everywhere eliminating the reliance on workers to wear protection.

Pulp & Paper

Create your own noise prevention plan with these four steps.

  1. Determine if your workers are exposed to high levels of noise. Be sure to pinpoint the sources of noise and who’s going to be affected where.
  2. Conduct a risk assessment. You can do a rudimentary assessment just by walking around and listening. If you’re looking for preliminary numbers, rent a sound level meter. There are also apps available that can be used as screening tools. Smartphone apps must be used cautiously however and shouldn’t be relied on for complete accuracy. If an app provides a number that hovers around 85dB (the current occupational limit more than eight hours), call in an occupational hygienist to do a proper survey.
  3. Determine the best way to protect employees:• Start with engineering controls. Can you reduce noise at the source or along the path of transmission? Before implementing a control (such as enclosing a machine), check with an expert to ensure you’re not introducing new hazards.• Look at work practices. Could repairs make machines less noisy? Could you adjust schedules to reduce workers’ exposure time or duration, or increase distance from the source?• Consider PPE if other controls are not possible. Select PPE carefully though. Talk to employees about what kind of protection they’d prefer and which is most comfortable. Ensure that workers are trained on care and use, including proper fit, limitations, inspection and maintenance, and most importantly hygiene. Dirty ear plugs can lead to other health issues.

    4. Ensure your controls are working. Implement a surveillance program that includes audiometric testing to make sure people are using hearing protection correctly and not suffering hearing loss.

Hearing Protection in Metal Manufacturing Facilities

Hearing Protection in Metal Manufacturing Facilities

Noise is one of the most common occupational health issues in metal manufacturing/casting facilities. As a manufacturer in North America, staying competitive and profitable at the same time can be very challenging. While you must adhere to regulations designed to keep your workforce safe, some of your foreign competitors don’t, which unfortunately squeezes your margins. So, to keep your factory open and profitable, you need to concentrate on improving productivity.

Custom Protect Ear (CPE) specializes in personalized hearing protection and has helped a number of metal machining and fabricating operations overcome their productivity limitations and hearing health safety concerns.

Metal Machining

Hearing Loss Prevention

According to OSHA, the definition of Noise is unwanted sound. Sound is measured in two ways: by frequency and loudness (intensity). Loudness refers to the sound’s intensity and is measured in decibels (dB) on a logarithmic scale. Excessive exposure to noise can produce both temporary and permanent hearing loss.

Permanent hearing loss generally occurs gradually over time. By the time a worker notices a hearing problem, it is usually too late to do anything about the hearing loss. The extent of the hearing loss depends on the noise frequency, intensity and exposure time. High noise levels have other undesirable effects, such as interfering with communication in the workplace. For your workers to stay on top of their game, they need to be able to communicate interpersonally or by radio while remaining protected. Worker safety should be a top priority for everyone, whether they’re monitoring controls, part of the production process or working with machinery.

Machinist and maintenance people need to hear how their machinery sounds to ensure that it is running properly, so they don’t often wear their earplugs correctly. Without the proper ear protection, workers are exposed to hearing damage which ultimately may hinder their ability to detect a machine’s problems before it breaks down, resulting in costly consequences. dB Blockers™ provide workers with effective protection and a safe, audible sound range needed to efficiently perform their job.

Worker Safety in Metal Manufacturing

Often when dirty hands come into contact with ears to adjust hearing protectors, workers develop ear infections.  

dB Blockers™ fit perfectly upon insertion – no need to re-adjust.  Various models of dB Blockers™ are available, highlighted by one style that comes with a convenient handle (The Grip) for clean, easy insertion and removal. dB Blockers™ fit better than muffs for those with glasses or facial hair.

Why workers are choosing dB Blockers

For welders, disposable earplugs are not only inadequate but are also dangerous as they melt, and even burn when hot slag hits them.

Fortunately, dB Blockers™ don’t burn or cause machinery breakdowns by clogging critical systems such as foam disposables earplugs do when carelessly discarded.  dB Blockers™ are not disposable so they won’t end up littering the parking lot.

With workers’ hearing properly protected while wearing dB Blockers™, you can overcome some of the worksite challenges you may be experiencing. This will help your operation toward staying competitive and profitable in the market place.

metal machining

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sources:

  • http://www.afsinc.org/files/hearing%20fact%20sheet.pdf
  • http://www.protectear.com/customers/industries-by-sector/
  • Measuring Noise Exposure Loudness is perceived differently at different frequencies. To measure noise levels in a way that most closely resembles how the ear hears sound, most meters have filters that can produce what is called the A-weighted sound level (dB). The A-weighted sound level is the setting that the OSHA noise standard requires for most noise measurements. Two instruments used to measure noise exposure are the sound level meter (SLM) and the noise dosimeter. The SLM measures the intensity of sound at a given moment. When using this instrument, noise level measurements must be taken several times during the workday at the various duties and locations the employee works. The time that the noise remains at each of the various measured levels must be recorded. The average noise level must then be calculated.
  • The SLM is not worn by the worker but is held by someone else taking measurements while following the worker. A dosimeter stores sound level measurements and integrates them over a work shift. The worker wears the dosimeter for the entire sampling time. The read-out is in percent dose or equivalent time weighted-average (TWA) exposure. All noise monitoring instruments should meet applicable American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards (ANSI S1.40, and ANSI S1.25) and be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Meeting these specifications assures the accuracy of the results. Impulse or impact noise is automatically included in the dosimeter measurements by the ANSI standards. A sudden, sharp, isolated sound, such as hitting the side of a sand bin with a sledge hammer, is an example of impact noise.

 

Hearing Protection in Metal Manufacturing Facilities

July 18, 2017

Hearing Protection in Metal Manufacturing Facilities

Noise is one of the most common occupational health issues in metal manufacturing/casting facilities. As a manufacturer in North America, staying competitive and profitable at the same time can be very challenging. While you must adhere to regulations designed to keep your workforce safe, some of your foreign competitors don’t, which unfortunately squeezes your margins. So, to keep your factory open and profitable, you need to concentrate on improving productivity.

Custom Protect Ear (CPE) specializes in personalized hearing protection and has helped a number of metal machining and fabricating operations overcome their productivity limitations and hearing health safety concerns.

Metal Machining

Hearing Loss Prevention

According to OSHA the definition of Noise is unwanted sound. Sound is measured in two ways: by frequency and loudness (intensity). Loudness refers to the sound’s intensity and is measured in decibels (dB) on a logarithmic scale. Excessive exposure to noise can produce both temporary and permanent hearing loss.

Permanent hearing loss generally occurs gradually over time. By the time a worker notices a hearing problem, it is usually too late to do anything about the hearing loss. The extent of the hearing loss depends on the noise frequency, intensity and exposure time. High noise levels have other undesirable effects, such as interfering with communication in the workplace. For your workers to stay on top of their game, they need to be able to communicate interpersonally or by radio while remaining protected. Worker safety should be a top priority for everyone, whether they’re monitoring controls, part of the production process or working with machinery.

Machinist and maintenance people need to hear how their machinery sounds to ensure that it is running properly, so they don’t often wear their earplugs correctly. Without the proper ear protection, workers are exposed to hearing damage which ultimately may hinder their ability to detect a machine’s problems before it breaks down, resulting in costly consequences. dB Blockers™ provide workers with effective protection and a safe, audible sound range needed to efficiently perform their job.

Worker Safety in Metal Manufacturing

Often when dirty hands come into contact with ears to adjust hearing protectors, workers develop ear infections.  

dB Blockers™ fit perfectly upon insertion – no need to re-adjust.  Various models of dB Blockers™ are available, highlighted by one style that comes with a convenient handle (The Grip) for clean, easy insertion and removal. dB Blockers™ fit better than muffs for those with glasses or facial hair.

Why workers are choosing dB Blockers

For welders, disposable earplugs are not only inadequate but are also dangerous as they melt, and even burn when hot slag hits them.

Fortunately, dB blockers™ don’t burn or cause machinery breakdowns by clogging critical systems such as foam disposables earplugs do when carelessly discarded.  dB Blockers™ are not disposable so they won’t end up littering the parking lot.

With workers’ hearing properly protected while wearing dB Blockers™, you can overcome some of the worksite challenges you may be experiencing. This will help your operation toward staying competitive and profitable in the market place.

metal machining

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sources:

  • http://www.afsinc.org/files/hearing%20fact%20sheet.pdf
  • http://www.protectear.com/customers/industries-by-sector/
  • Measuring Noise Exposure Loudness is perceived differently at different frequencies. To measure noise levels in a way that most closely resembles how the ear hears sound, most meters have filters that can produce what is called the A-weighted sound level (dB). The A-weighted sound level is the setting that the OSHA noise standard requires for most noise measurements. Two instruments used to measure noise exposure are the sound level meter (SLM) and the noise dosimeter. The SLM measures the intensity of sound at a given moment. When using this instrument, noise level measurements must be taken several times during the workday at the various duties and locations the employee works. The time that the noise remains at each of the various measured levels must be recorded. The average noise level must then be calculated.

 

 

 

The SLM is not worn by the worker, but is held by someone else taking measurements while following the worker. A dosimeter stores sound level measurements and integrates them over a work shift. The worker wears the dosimeter for the entire sampling time. The read-out is in percent dose or equivalent time weighted-average (TWA) exposure. All noise monitoring instruments should meet applicable American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards (ANSI S1.40, and ANSI S1.25) and be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Meeting these specifications assures the accuracy of the results. Impulse or impact noise is automatically included in the dosimeter measurements by the ANSI standards. A sudden, sharp, isolated sound, such as hitting the side of a sand bin with a sledge hammer, is an example of impact noise.

 

Hearing Loss Prevention Beyond the Workplace

July 10, 2017
Industrial Hearing loss

As a Hearing Protection Manufacturer, we as a company are always speaking about Hearing Loss Prevention in the workplace. However, there are also Best Practices for developing a culture of hearing conservation, both at work and at home.

Since OSHA had implemented detailed noise exposure regulations (29 CFR 1910.95), employers and safety professionals have monitored noise levels, posted warning signs, purchased earplugs and routinely tested employees’ hearing. Other activities consisted of training programs for new employees, putting up posters and selected groups to be a part of the product buying process.

Although these activities are conducted to prevent hearing loss, workers are still continuing to suffer noise-induced hearing loss at alarming rates. The cost of noise-induced hearing loss in the United States is now measured in billions (not millions) of dollars annually.

Hearing Loss Prevention plan

Setting up the actual Hearing Loss Prevention plan is easy; the difficult task is getting workers to buy in and engage in the program. In addition, loud noises are not just limited to the workplace. Noise-induced hearing loss can be just as prevalent off the job as on the job, and exposure outside the workplace is often a lot less noticeable.

Build Buy-in on the Hearing Loss Prevention Plan – Educate & Engage beyond the workplace

Beyond employee adherence to safety rules, there are ways to utilize other controls for reducing noise exposure that will impact the worker on and off the job.

Additionally, OSHA offers a list of administrative controls that managers can use to minimize the risk:

  • Operating noisy machines during shifts with the fewest employees exposed
  • Limiting the number of time employees can work near a noise source
  • Providing quiet areas for employees to get a break from the noise
  • Restricting worker presence to a suitable distance away from a noise source
  • Establishing a hearing conservation program (required at sites exceeding the PEL)
  • Hold informative workshops on the importance of Hearing Loss Prevention on and off the job.

Some of these suggestions may be more feasible at your work site than others, so take advantage of those that you can logistically implement. Encourage employee participation in this process as well, because they tend to have the greatest exposure to noise, and thus may have insights for improving hearing protection. Many incidents of hearing loss from occupational noise exposure are preventable, and because completely eliminating the noise at work is often not an option, companies must take every measure possible to minimize its effects.

To learn how a Proper Safety plan is executed please check out our previous post: A Proper Executed Safety Program


Sources

http://www.selectinternational

A Proper Executed Safety Program = Money Saved

June 29, 2017

Workplace injuries can cost our society around $128B in losses in a given year. This amount equals to 25¢ of every dollar in pre-taxed corporate profits.

(American Society of Safety Engineers. 2002)

safety plan

Establishing a proper Workplace Safety Program

Establishing a proper Workplace Safety Program will not only provide proper structure for safety but will also create long-term savings in an organization. Having a proper outlined safety guideline can provide essential benefits such as:

  • Reduce injury
  • Increase productivity
  • Create a safe work culture

Reduce Injury

“50 workers are injured every minute of the work week.” 

– American Society of Safety Engineers, 2002

A health and safety manager is responsible for ensuring that safety is an essential component of an organization. (Maine Department of Labor, 2013) Reducing injury in the workplace is imperative, as the people within the company are the vital elements that help steer the organization’s future.

Therefore, it is important to have a safety system with proper precautions. Without a system, avoidable injuries and costs can arise.  Examples of the costs that could be affected are:

  • Increased spending on insurance premiums
  • Increase in hiring costs
  • The added cost of re-training
  • Overtime to compensate for low workforce

The money that is spent on these avoidable costs could be invested into other aspects of the organization:  i.e. – enhancing the development of both the business and the people of the company. An example of where to invest would be: providing cost-effective personal protective equipment to prevent worker injuries. Personal protective equipment could include proper custom ear molding devices to protect hearing-loss, eyewear to prevent eye injury, headwear to protect your head, etc.

A lack of safety can lead to a loss of productivity, efficiency and time, in the long-run.

Increase in Productivity

“Developing a safety culture… increases employee productivity by 24% and reduces factory costs by 20%   

– SafetyLine, 2017 

increase-productivity

 

When an organization tries to find methods to cut costs (including bypassing a properly outlined and managed safety program), the assumption is that this will save money and time; thereby increasing profits. This type of action creates the opposite effect in the long run, as these workplace environments can be deemed unsafe and undesirable to work in. A decrease in productivity may occur as a consequence of injured employees taking time off from work. This can be a detriment to any company and needs to be avoided.

That is just one aspect of a loss in productivity when avoiding an investment in a safety. Other affected benefits may include:

  •  A lack of a high-quality working environment
  • A lack of good communications/relationships between management and employees
  • A lack of demonstrating that the company values their employees

When a working environment is at its peak morale, employees are motivated to work hard and be safe in their roles.  This provides the company with an opportunity to invest into other aspects of their business when people are productive and safe.

Create a Safe Work Culture

“Building a strong health and safety culture will have positive impact on your workers and public perception”

– Worksafe BC, 2017

Company culture creates an “aura” that is interpreted by society. When a company values safety as an organizational standard, potential and current talent sees this as a positive benefit to working for a company. When a company undervalues safety and health, it can create a poor reputation, pushing away workers. Employee morale can be affected, resulting in people leaving the organization. When a company is unable to fill positions, wages that are above market values are typically needed to attract talent. (American Society of Safety Engineers. 2002)

Engaging the workforce in health and safety practices; having a transparent and open health and safety program, and always wanting to improve the health and safety performance inside a company, provides a great return for any organization. Creating a strong health and safety culture demonstrates that employees are highly valued.

“Studies indicate that every $1 invested in a workplace safety program [returns] $3 – $10 in direct and indirect cost savings.”

– American Society of Safety Engineers, 2002

Workplace injuries can be costly

More than $40 billion are paid each year by employers and their insurers in worker’s compensation benefits; or nearly $500 per covered employee. (American Society of Safety Engineers. 2002) There is an initial investment when creating a safety program, but it will pay off in the long run.  A company may experience high monetary losses and workforce labor losses without proper guidelines. Safety is a major factor that should never be overlooked or ignored. Recognizing the value of a comprehensive health and safety program will ultimately save the organization money.

 


Sources

American Society of Safety Engineers. (2002, June 8). White Paper Addressing the Return on Investment for Safety, Health, and Environment (SH&E) Management Programs [Article]. Retrieved June 14, 2017, from http://www.asse.org/professionalaffairs/action/return-on-investment-for-safety/

Institute for Safety and Health Management (2014, September 4). Why Safety and Health Have Good Business Benefits [Blog]. Retrieved from https://ishm.org/safety-health-good-business-benefits/

Maine Department of Labor (2013). Managing Safety and Health [Article]. Retrieved from http://www.safetyworksmaine.gov/safe_workplace/safety_management/

SafetyLine (2017). Is Safety Productive? [Blog]. Retrieved from https://safetylineloneworker.com/blog/is-safety-productive/#more-2740

Worksafe BC (2017). Enhancing Health & Safety Culture & Performance [Article]. Retrieved from https://www.worksafebc.com/en/health-safety/create-manage/enhancing-culture-performance

 

How is sound measured?

June 20, 2017

How is sound measured?

Sound energy travels in waves and is measured in frequency and amplitude.

Amplitude measures how forceful the wave is. It is measured on a Logarithmic scale and reported[1] in decibels or dBA of sound pressure. 0 dBA is the softest level that a person can hear. Normal speaking voices are around 65 dBA. A rock concert can reach about 120 dBA but is often at 100 dB.

Sounds that are 82[2] dBA or above can permanently damage your ears when exposed for a long period of time. The more sound pressure a sound has, the less time it takes to cause damage. For example, a sound at 85 dBA may take as long at 8 hours to cause permanent damage, while a sound at 97 dBA can start damaging hair cells after only 30 minutes of listening.

Frequency is measured in the number of sound vibrations in one second. A healthy ear can hear sounds of very low frequency, 20 Hertz (or 20 cycles per second), to a very high frequency of 20,000 Hertz. The lowest A key on the piano is 27 Hertz. The middle C key on a piano creates a 262 Hertz tone. The highest key on the piano is 4186 Hertz.

Sound Measurement Scenario

Have you even been in a noisy factory and had to cover your ears?

Walked past a jackhammer in the street and winced because the sound was so loud? Being exposed to loud noises for a brief period usually does no harm, but imagine having to suffer it hour upon hour, day after day. Noise that can damage your ears is referred to as “Toxic Noise”. A reliable way to determine if you have Toxic Noise is to stand 1 meter or 1 yard from someone. If they can’t understand you when speaking at a normal conversational level, you have an indicator that you have Toxic Noise. Once you determine you have Toxic Noise, the first thing you need to do is measure how loud it is so you can take effective steps to reduce it.

Making precise measurements of noise used to be quite a tricky business, but now there are automated, electronic sound-level meters that do the job for you.

What makes one sound louder than another?

How loud a sound seems to depend on who’s listening. A young person playing rock up in their bedroom might not think their music is loud, but their parents in the room down below might have other ideas. In other words, how loud things seem is a subjective thing and not something we can easily measure. However, what makes one sound seem louder than another is the amount of energy that the source of the sound is pumping towards the listener in the form of pressure variations in the air. That’s the intensity of the sound.

Meters that measure sound levels work by calculating the pressure of the sound waves traveling through the air from a source of the noise. That’s why you’ll sometimes see them referred to as sound pressure level (SPL) meters. Devices like this give a measurement of sound intensity in units called decibels as we mentioned before. Telephone pioneer Alexander Graham Bell first devised this scale.

Below check out the sound odometer and the intensity of various sounds.

Sound-ODO

If you think you have toxic noise, and you want help measuring it, contact (in the U.S. hearus@protectear.com and in Canada contact hear@protectear.com ).

Sources

http://www.explainthatstuff.com/sound.html


[1] Because the scale is Logarithmic the difference between 10 decibels and 11 decibels is 10x the sound power just like the Richter scale for measuring the intensity of earthquakes.

[2] A European study showed exposures of up to 82 dB resulted in the same hearing loss as the general non-noise-exposed population. At 85 dB the noise-exposed population experiences twice the regular population’s level of hearing loss.

What you should know about protecting your hearing this summer. 

June 10, 2017

What you should know about protecting your hearing this summer. 

Now that summer is just around the corner, it is important to know that there is more than just the sun to protect oneself from. Summer is filled with several outings and adventures where you may be exposed to loud noises. We don’t often think about the impact some activities can have on our hearing, so here are few to look out for this summer.

Driving in a convertible car:

Many of us are eager to hit the road during warmer months. During road trips, keep the stereo at a moderate volume, and don’t use music to drown out background noise. Opt for noise canceling earphones, instead.

Riding a motorcycle:

Riding motorcycles can make you happier … and hard of hearing

If you are a rider and say “motorcycle noise”, most people think of loud exhaust pipes. Savvy riders know there’s a much greater enemy — wind. Exposure to sound louder than 95 decibels (dB) can cause permanent hearing damage. Street riders on quiet bikes can expect wind noise to exceed 110 dB (even inside a good helmet); racers can expect 115 dB. Fifteen minutes of 110 dB a day, five days a week (can you say commute?) can cause up to a 30-percent hearing loss within a year. Your options: never ride faster than you can walk, use motorcycle personal ear plugs, or face a future with one of those ear trumpets glued to the side of your head.

Watching fireworks   fireworks

Be smart when you celebrate July 1st or the 4th of July festivities. Leave the fireworks to the professionals. And when watching the show, stay a safe distance away—where you can enjoy the colors and lights but not expose yourself and your family to loud noises.

To protect your hearing, make sure you’re wearing earplugs and that they’re securely in place before the show begins. Also be sure to keep them in for the entire show.

Jammin’ to loud music

Most of all, you should limit the length of time you spend in a noisy environment. When you do participate in noisy activities, alternate them with periods of quiet. And remember to use ear protection.

MusicRemember to “TURN it DOWN”

When listening to smartphones and other electronics, use them at a low volume. It is important to limit your use of headphones and ear buds. Remember, it’s not just the volume that matters. It is also the exposure or duration of time spent listening.

Taking a flight? Going on vacation?

Air travelers often complain about ear discomfort. When the plane is taking off or landing, yawn, swallow or chew gum to unplug your ears. If these tips aren’t effective, pinch your nostrils shut, inhale a mouthful of air, and direct the air back to your nose, as if you’re trying to gently blow, to equalize the pressure in your ears. Vented customized hearing protection devices can also help with the ear discomfort when the plane gets noisy.

flight

These are just a few activities to look out for and to remember to think twice about protecting your hearing this summer. To learn more about custom hearing protection and dB Blockers™, contact us today.

db Blockers

From all of us at ProtectEar, have a safe and protected summer.

 

May Is Better Hearing and Speech Month

May 25, 2017

Approximately 46 million Americans experience some form of communication disorder. Communication disorders can compromise physical and emotional health and affect the social, educational, vocational, and recreational aspects of life.

Hearing Loss

To raise awareness about communication disorders, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) joins the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) in observing Better Hearing and Speech Month each May. The NIDCD, ASHA, and many allied organizations educate the public about communication disorders, treatments, and current research that can improve the lives of those with hearing loss or with voice, speech, or language disorders. This year’s Better Hearing and Speech Month theme is “Communication: The Key to Connection.”

“Approximately 15 percent of American adults, or 37.5 million people, report some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss can lead to feelings of isolation and a lack of connection with family, friends, and community. Assistive devices such as hearing aids can significantly improve quality of life, yet only about one in four of those who could benefit from hearing aids has ever used them.”


SOURCE

https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/news/2017/may-better-hearing-and-speech-month