Hearing Loss Prevention in the Food Industry

August 22, 2017

Hearing Loss Prevention in the Food Industry

dB Blocker for Food IndustryBehind that yummy assortment of bakery delights or that wonderfully prepared to go straight to the oven, frozen Chicken Cordon Bleu is an entire assembly of creative chefs and production staff who prepared it for you; production workers who are also exposed to workplace hazards every day. One specifically is industrial hearing loss.

The issue of hearing protection in the food processing industry — and in process industries in general — is somewhat more complex than it is in other industries in that employers must protect workers’ hearing as well as protect the purity of the product.

When it comes to food processing, the highest quality and hygiene standards must be maintained. With people’s lives and the earth’s future at stake, every step must be taken to ensure the welfare of the public and the environment. This puts a lot of pressure on employees to perform at their best, which is why many of your competitors are investing in their worker’s best interests.

Detectable Hearing Protectors

If you are the safety officer at a food processing company, the issue of providing hearing protection that is safe for people and process are not one to be taken lightly. There are two basic approaches to protect food products from stray hearing protectors: the first is to keep the hearing protector from falling into the product in the first place, and the second is to make it easily detectable if it does. Custom Protect Ear, manufacturers of dB Blockers™, has created three options of Metal Detectable dB Blockers that help with both approaches. (dB Blocker™ Metal Detectable (MD) Vented; dB Blocker™ Metal Detectable (MD) Non-Vented; dB Blocker™ Metal Detectable (MD) Communication Ear Piece)

Promoting Quality and Hygiene in the Food Processing Industry

To help your workers adhere to stringent quality and hygiene standards, dB Blockers™ are made of SkinSoft™ medical grade silicone, are hypoallergenic, washable, and nonporous so they don’t breed contaminants. As per food industry standards, the dB Blocker™ MD ear pieces are manufactured to provide for fast detectability in production line screening processes.

Should the ear pieces get misplaced or go missing, they can be easily replaced as the custom ear mold that is taken during the fitting process, is retained on file for five years. dB Blockers™ are custom fit, reusable hearing protection. They are not disposable; making them more cost effective to use than disposables.
With your workers’ hearing properly protected by dB Blockers™, you can rise above these challenges, enabling your workers to perform even more effectively.

“Over the years, CPE has anticipated our needs and far exceeded our expectations. They’re even working on advances to our protectors. They really take the time to understand the challenges we face in our daily operations.” ~ Maidstone Bakeries

dB BLOCKER™ METAL DETECTABLE Vented

 

Metal Detectable

Noise Induced Hearing Loss is a Growing Problem

The bottom line in all this, however, underscores the employers’ need to protect workers’ hearing. Despite the growing awareness of hearing loss and increased efforts to combat it, the incidence of noise induced hearing loss among industrial workers — food processing and otherwise — continues to rise. A recent National Health Interview Survey showed that hearing problems among individuals aged 45-64 years have risen 26% over the past 30 years. This means safety professionals need to not only take into account traditional Noise Reduction Ratings (NRR) in providing protective hearing protection but to also consider the human factor which undermines hearing conservation efforts.

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!

Hearing Protection in Metal Manufacturing Facilities

July 25, 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 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.

 

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.

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

5 things to consider when choosing a Hearing Protection Device Vendor

May 16, 2017

WHAT 5 THINGS TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING A HEARING PROTECTION DEVICE VENDOR

Some of you may not know that when choosing a Hearing Protection Device (HPD) for your company, there is more than “a good product” to look for when selecting a hearing device for your workforce.

According to CCOHS & OHS-

People should wear a hearing protector if the noise or sound level at the workplace exceeds 85 decibels (A-weighted) or dB (A). Hearing protectors reduce the noise exposure level and the risk of hearing loss.

If hearing protection is required, then a complete Hearing Loss Prevention Program should be instituted. A Hearing Loss Prevention Program includes noise assessment, hearing protection selection, employee training and education, audiometric testing, maintenance, inspection, record keeping, and program evaluation.

The effectiveness of hearing protection is reduced greatly if the hearing protectors do not fit properly or if they are worn only part time during periods of noise exposure. To maintain their effectiveness, they should not be modified.

Remember, radio headsets are not substitutes for hearing protectors and should not be worn where hearing protectors are required to protect against exposure to noise.

When selecting a hearing protection provider, we have highlighted 5 elements to look for. This will directly impact during the process:

You should ask yourself of the following,

Does the Vendor:

  1. Meet the standard requirements?
  2. Highlight the quality of the product?
  3. Have Customer and After Sales service?
  4. Meet the comfort and wear requirements?
  5. Have a Warranty and Product Guarantee?

1. Standards and Requirements When Choosing HPD’s

USA Hearing Protection Standard

The standard most recognized in the US market is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The Hearing Protection Standards outline noise safety steps when noise cannot be sufficiently reduced through engineering. The Current Standard is ANSI/S12.6-2016; Methods for Measuring the Real-Ear Attenuation of Hearing Protectors. This standard specifies laboratory-based procedures for measuring, analyzing, and reporting the passive noise-reducing capabilities of hearing protectors. More Standards found here.

Canadian Hearing Protection Standard

The Canadian Standard Association (CSA) standard on Hearing Protection is the CSA Z94.2 – Hearing Protection Devices legislation. This new version of the standard meshes more closely with US approaches, recognizing the reality of how closely our two economies are entwined and provides more guidance to health and safety professionals needing reliable information on how to select hearing protection. It should become the new standard for due diligence in selecting and using hearing protection in Canada.

The Measurement Standards includes the following criteria:

  • Attenuation – (difference of SLs (sensation levels)at the threshold with and without protectors)
  • Comfort – No standard as of yet
  • Insertion loss (not the same) ( the difference between levels inside and outside of the ATF-Acoustic Test Fixture).

More on Standards 

2. Quality of Product

When it comes to Hearing Protection Devices there are ample products out in the market that range from ear muffs,disposables to custom hearing protection. However, when it comes to quality it is important to look at two elements; 1. adequate protection and 2. communication safety. When it comes to hearing protection, not all devices are created equally.

Just like one size fits all work boots are probably not the best choice, neither is one size fits all hearing protection. Every human ear is unique in size, shape, and depth. Therefore it makes sense that for hearing protection to be the most effective, as well as the most comfortable, it must be custom fit.

Knowing the fitting process helps determine the adequacy of the product. For Custom Protect Hearing, the fitting process usually takes about 10 minutes and typically begins with one of their highly trained and certified experts visiting the customer’s plant or workplace in order to do the fitting on-site.

To begin, the ear is inspected to make sure it is safe to take an impression.

Then an oto-dam is placed inside the ear to protect the eardrum. Impression material is prepared and carefully injected into the client’s ear (up to the depth of the oto-dam). The material hardens quickly, and moments later, the impression is gently removed. The impression creates an exact replica of the wearer’s ear canal and outer ear.

This ensures the custom hearing protector seals the ear both in the canal and around the ear.

And for interpersonal communication purposes, the proprietary frequency tuned filter allows communication without removing the HPD. People can communicate in noise more effectively while wearing their dB Blocker™ hearing protection, than if they were to remove them. Your Hearing Loss Prevention Program will not interfere with productivity, rather it will enhance it. This process uses a custom hearing device called the dB Blocker™.

3. Customer and After Service

When it comes to customer service – it is important to be able to speak with someone who can answer all your questions and eliminate roadblocks. Having a live person you can connect with is important to the HPD buying experience.  Besides going through the actual sales process some things you can check out on the company are:

  • What are their Corporate Values?
  • What is the process to handle Product Replacements and Returns?
  • Is there a 1-800 number you can call?
  • Are there forms you can fill out to order additional hpd’s on their website?

4. Comfort & Wear

It is always good to look for guarantees for Fit and Comfort.  When it comes todB Blocker

custom HPD’s, fit and comfort are crucial to the wearer’s experience. Is there any type of FIT Warranty that allows for the individual to ensure the earpiece fits and seals properly? A FIT Warranty (guaranteeing comfort and wear) is particularly important to a Hearing Loss Prevention Program as it is one of the things that ensures compliance and that the individual will wear the HPD, thereby decreasing any type of liability or workplace harm.

5. Warranty & Product Guarantee

Purchasing HPD’s are an investment in your employee’s health and safety, so it is important that you get the customer service and after care service with your investment. A few things to look for:

  1. How many years is the product warranted for?
  2. Generally, custom HPD’s have a 1-3 year material warranty from the date of manufacture. Does it cover any tearing, cracking, or splitting of one or both earpieces?
  3. The warranty claim process should be easy. Ideally, when dealing with a warranty issue – you should be able to call and deal with a real person who can walk you through the claim process.

By going through these 5 steps when selecting an HPD manufacturer, it will make your life easier, and remove any concerns when it comes to protecting your employees hearing.

To learn more about selecting an HPD vendor please contact us, and one of our representatives will be able to answer all of your questions. 

Young construction workers less likely to protect hearing says WorkSafeBC

March 13, 2017

Young construction workers less likely to protect hearing says WorkSafeBC

by THE CANADIAN PRESS

RICHMOND (NEWS1130) – The organization that regulates health and safety in British Columbia workplaces reports almost one in four young construction workers is not doing enough to protect against hearing loss.

New data from WorkSafeBC shows 24 per cent of construction workers aged 21 or under don’t wear hearing protection.

That compares with 13 per cent of construction workers who don’t use hearing protection over the age of 50 and 11 per cent in all other age groups in the industry.

WorkSafe says young workers in construction are also less likely to wear hearing protection than young employees in other industries, such as manufacturing and primary resources.

The data was collected last year from more than 160,000 hearing tests conducted by BC employers as part of hearing loss prevention programs required by WorkSafeBC.

Occupational audiologist Sasha Brown says noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by a single loud noise or by repeated exposure to consistent noise, and it must be taken very seriously.

Read Article.