August 6, 2017
August 6, 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)
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:
“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:
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.
“Developing a safety culture… increases employee productivity by 24% and reduces factory costs by 20%
– SafetyLine, 2017
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:
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.
“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
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.
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
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 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 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.
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.
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.
 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.
 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.
It is not disputed that earplugs protect the wearer from the noise exposure in an industrial, musical, sports and motorsport setting. The single-use disposable earplug remains the most common type of hearing protection in use today. In fact, disposable hearing protection is still commonly used in workplaces despite them being commercially introduced as the first foam disposable earplugs over 40 years ago.
Single-use disposable ear plugs remain popular because they’re perceived to be inexpensive -although they are not. Disposables are not cheap when compared to use over the expected lifetime of a custom moulded earplug.
Allowing for 2 breaks and lunch, the user of disposable earplugs will use 4 pair per day. (Disposable hearing protection should never be reinserted once removed). When allowing for bulk buying, generally earplugs can be purchased for about 15¢ per pair.
REAL COST BREAKDOWN
Use of 4 pair of earplugs per day for 5 days per week for 50 weeks per year brings the cost to $150.00 per employee. A pair of custom-moulded earplugs costing $150 with an expected use life of five years, amortizes to $35.00 per year
Ear Plugs contribute to waste production and landfill
Along with the REAL COST, the other unfortunate and negative aspects of single-use earplugs are – they contribute to waste production and landfill.
It is no secret that there is a shortage of landfills across North America; plus many companies including Custom Protect Ear (CPE), are trying to reduce their carbon footprint by adopting sustainable practices and producing ecofriendly products to eliminate waste. Our company, CPE, is committed to becoming more sustainable by working to eliminate or offset any adverse effects our business may have on the planet.
Some of the programs we initiated are:
Consider a typical industrial workplace in the US
The company has 200 workers within a mandatory hearing protection zone and each employee has access to disposable earplugs. Each employee works 250 days per year. Each worker wears one disposable pair of earplugs for the morning shift and a new pair after lunch; so let’s factor 2 pairs of disposables per work day. (*We use 2 as an average, however, the numbers of disposable plugs may vary by worker in a day)
If you do the math at a 100% conformance, that is a staggering 100,000 pairs of used earplugs that are being sent to the landfill by this one company each year. Within 5 years, the company will send one million single non-biodegradable earplugs to the landfill; a problem that is further compounded when you also consider that most earplugs are packaged in a box or provided in additional individual plastic wrappers.
The earplug itself is unlikely to be biodegradable and the actual amount of landfill created by one employee wearing two pairs a day during their employment is staggering; times this by the number of employees and the number of businesses within the US and the financial cost increases and the environmental impact becomes apparent.
Solution: Custom Moulded Hearing Protection
Fortunately, there is a solution that reduces waste, saves money and retains the required level of protection. The solution is dB Blockers™. dB Blockers™ are a custom moulded hearing protector that is manufactured by Custom Protect Ear.
dB Blockers™ are hearing protection products made to fit the individual’s ear exactly, providing the worker with a custom hearing protector (earplug) that can be worn all day long, while receiving “REAL WORLD” (what the wearer actually receives) attenuation.
dB Blockers™ vs. Disposable Plugs
So, before you run out to buy those disposables or log in to your safety supplier or Amazon account, think again. It’s not just about the immediate need; it’s about making a decision that impacts the environment. Do you know how much it is actually costing your company? Learn more>
Good communication is vital to running a safe and efficient worksite or workplace. But, how do you achieve that amid the noise and multifaceted demands of the average noisy workplace?
Construction sites, Manufacturing Plants, Food Assembly Lines and Shop Floors are typically characterized by loud equipment in constant motion and limited visibility. In this environment, a missed warning or misunderstood instruction can have costly—or even tragic—consequences.
How do you know if your workplace is loud enough to require hearing protection. If you meet 2 out of 6 criteria below, then your company needs to re-evaluate their Hearing Conservation Plan.
All of this is the Cost of Noise. The Cost of Noise is hearing loss, productivity and risk management.
The cost of noise saps productivity and adds expense to companies. Reduce or control the cost of noise and profits will flow straight to the bottom line. It is a competitive advantage and many companies have recognized it. If you and your company want to do something about the cost of noise, ask us about about dB Blockers.
dB Blockers and they’re the SMARTEST HEARING PROTECTION In the World. Why smart? Inside each dB Blocker there is a little green filter, which filters out industrial noise and enhances speech. And it is also really a communication device. You wear these to protect your hearing and they’ll let you hear people talking to you.
Thanks to recent advancements in technology through SMART (custom) hearing devices, and wireless communication headsets, the costs of communication, productivity and safety has decreased significantly.
By adopting dB Blocker™ hearing devices an integral component of worksite communication, companies will not only enjoy a safer work environment, but also develop a more cohesive and productive crew.
Legalized OTC (over-the-counter) hearing aids are expected as a hearing-impaired consumer option. One of the arguments against this practice is that the potential purchaser has not had an audiogram from which to determine the type and degree of hearing levels to assist in the selection of the appropriate hearing aid, if such is to be recommended. However, serious discussion exists relative to the real value of a pure-tone audiogram for such selection, perhaps for the majority of individuals, especially based on the way pure-tone testing is currently conducted. What then, might be the role of a hearing self-test?
Aside from having an audiogram made, is it possible to somewhat “predict” an individual’s hearing levels? One skilled in the art can most likely draw a reasonable facsimile of a person’s audiogram just by conversing with them. Advertisements by both traditional and audiologist hearing aid dispensers have used paper and pencil questionnaires for years to “estimate” hearing levels in promotional materials to encourage consumers to utilize their services for more in-depth evaluation. Learn More.
Self-Test of Hearing – Paper and Pencil
A number of years ago this author designed a paper and pencil self-test of hearing. The test, in the form of a short questionnaire, was designed to allow a consumer to evaluate his/her ability to hear in different circumstances, and that their answers would help them better appreciate and understand their hearing status. They could make their own decision as to whether they wanted to follow through more specifically on the results of the test with whatever hearing testing facility they wanted. What the test was intended to do was to inform them about what they could expect of their hearing, based on their responses. Because the person knew that their answers were personal, and that no one else would see them, they were likely to answer the questions more honestly than those questionnaires that request their personal information in order to get the results. The intent of the self-test is to provide a rapid, but reasonably accurate understanding of the person’s hearing status.
Figures 2 provides the questionnaire and Figure 3 provides the scoring information. The degree of loss as identified from the scoring chart, is explained in the text following the two figures.
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.
Of all the five senses it seem that hearing is the most ignored and the most taken for granted. Our generation (Boomers, X&Y) have not done a very good job at preventing hearing loss until its too late.
Some of us have worked in loud noisy places and haven’t really considered protecting our ears except with the odd foam earplug, which are only good for one shift. Or we have worked in an environment where the noise was gradual but still loud and did nothing to protect our hearing since it wasn’t top of mind.
Or how about everyday uses to protect your hearing from noise pollution. Over the past 10 years we all have been embracing iTunes, iPods, Podcasts, SmartPhones, Audiobooks etc. But have we really considered the extra strain all of these technological advances have impacted our ears? Well if you LOVE YOUR HEARING, then I suggest you start. Remember we live with our hearing and we should love our hearing as it one of the 5 senses that allows to hear the wonderful things in life; things to consider next time you crank up that new hit song, or put in disposable instead of personal hearing protection.
DID YOU KNOW…
A study spanning a decade and incorporating hearing tests of more than 1.4 million American workers found that construction accounted for the second-highest prevalence of workers with a hearing impairment.(1) Every year, thousands of construction workers suffer hearing loss from excessive noise exposure on the job. Hearing loss impairs quality of life and increases the risk of injury – for instance, when a worker cannot hear approaching vehicles or warning signals.
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) usually results from extended exposure to sound levels at or above 85 dBA. NIOSH suggests the maximum exposure for an 8 hour period without requiring hearing protection is 85 dBA.
Although NIHL is a well-known risk in construction, government data among construction workers are limited. Since employers have no obligation to test workers’ hearing (audiometric testing) in construction, even if employees experience noise levels at or above OSHA’s PEL, for hearing loss in construction is rarely recognized as an occupational disease. It is not surprising, therefore, that the numbers reported to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show a very low rate of hearing loss, and for this reason hearing loss data for construction are not comparable with data for general industry.
Conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the “Hearing Impairment Among Noise-Exposed Workers” study estimated the prevalence of hearing loss at six levels using hearing tests performed between 2003 and 2012. The study expressed the impact of hearing loss on quality of life as annual disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).
The mining sector had the highest prevalence of workers with hearing impairment, followed by the construction and manufacturing sectors. 17% of mining workers whose hearing tests were included had one of the six levels of impairment, while 3% had moderate or worse impairment. Construction was next with 16 % of workers testing positive for any impairment and, like mining, 3 % with moderate or worse. (3)
The CDC estimates that mining and construction workers lost 3.45 and 3.09 healthy years per 1,000 workers, respectively, due to their occupation. This statistic is actually quite shocking; imagine losing 3 years of your life.
The CDC notes, “Current noise regulations do not require audiometric testing for construction workers. Without testing to identify workers losing their hearing, intervention might be delayed or might not occur.” Because of that, the CDC stresses the importance of proper hearing loss prevention through earplugs and other methods of protection on construction sites.
With approximately 22 million U.S. workers exposed to hazardous occupational noise, hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition in the U.S. and is the most common work related illness among American workers. Being the third most common chronic condition, one would think that standards to prevent hearing loss would be stricter.
This blog is based on a research paper by:
Masterson EA, Bushnell PT, Themann CL, Morata TC. Hearing Impairment Among Noise-Exposed Workers — United States, 2003–2012. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:389–394. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6515a2 (http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6515a2
 Permitted Exposure Limit
New hearing technologies and increased awareness of hearing loss points to 2017 as being the “Year of the Ear.” If you haven’t already made your New Year’s resolutions, consider what you can do to protect your hearing and be more hearing health conscious. We’ve compiled a list of a few things that you might want to consider for the new year.
Hearing loss prevention is an action where you take special precautions to ensure your hearing is not being negatively affected. Sometimes the loss itself can be difficult to identify, which is why it’s so important to be on top of changes that may occur to your hearing.
Your hearing health has a direct effect on your overall health. Hearing loss has been linked to numerous medical issues, including viruses, bacteria, heart conditions or strokes, head injuries, tumors and certain medicines.
Make sure you are making an annual hearing test part of your hearing health routine. Many hearing clinics provide free testing. If you haven’t already, schedule your next evaluation for the new year today.