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. 

Does Your Law Enforcement or Emergency Response Job Expose You to Hearing Loss?

November 21, 2016

Law Enforcement or Emergency Response Job & Hearing Loss

Your job is to help and protect the community in which you live but does your Law Enforcement or Emergency Response job expose you to Hearing Loss? Are you the one who needs help and protection?

If you are in Law Enforcement, First Response teams of Police, Fire Fighting or Ambulance are you exposed to high levels of noise that can cause hearing damage? What steps can you and your governing authorities take to ensure your hearing is protected from on-the-job damaging sounds, sirens and high decibel sounds from weapons related devices?

Firefighters File Lawsuits about Hearing Loss Fire fighter and hearing loss

For more than a decade Firefighters have been filing lawsuits against an Illinois-based company that makes sirens. The claims have centered around the concerns that the company that makes sirens did not do enough to design the fire trucks in a way that would shield the Fire Fighters from sound blasts that reach 120 dB. Noise in the range of 120 dB would be equivalent to the noise from a jackhammer about 3 feet away and can cause pain and according to both OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) & NIOSH (The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) that level is outside of any time length of exposure for hearing safety. In other words, it is at a daily permissible noise level of 0 minutes!

Exposure to noise (Hearing Loss) from Weapons, support vehicles and equipment

What about Law Enforcement, Military, Security or Correctional Officer jobs? Not only are you exposed to noise from the sudden discharge of weapons related devices but you could also be exposed to noise from Helicopters, sirens from emergency support vehicles and equipment. A jet engine at 100 feet can emit 140dB of noise, a Military Jet Aircraft take-off from an aircraft carrier with afterburner at 50 feet can create 150dB of noise, a 12 Gauge Shotgun blast at close quarters can be as high as 165dB!

Military Jet

Personal (Custom) Hearing Protection Devices (HPD’s)

Most Governmental Workers exposed to noise are supplied HPD’s for use on the job. The importance of HPD’s is that they are the correct style of protection for the environment you will be in. You will need a different hearing protection device for the firing range where the focus will be on as much protection from noise as possible with less need for being able to hear commands or instructions. While on-the-job as a Law Enforcement Official in a situation where there is a strong possibility of weapons being fired, you would require a HPD that is instantly attenuated for gun fire but allows for certain necessary sounds to be heard such as interpersonal and radio communications or equipment.

Are you exposed to these high levels of noise on the job? Are you supplied and correctly using a personal hearing protection device that provides you the correct protection throughout your day? Have you been properly trained in its effective use?

Warning signs of hearing loss

Be aware of what the warning signs of hearing loss are. Understand that tinnitus or ringing in the ears may not be the sound of your background environment but may actually be the beginning signs temporary leading to permanent of hearing loss. Hearing loss due to damage is not reversible and in fact may lead to further damage as your loss of hearing may be causing you to turn up the volume of TV’s, music devices or phones. Recognize that hearing loss may also take the form of selective hearing loss of certain frequencies of sound. You may not hear high pitched sounds of a female or child’s voice but still be able to clearly hear the low pitched sound of a man speaking.

Take caution in your job and protect not only the public in your service oriented career but also take care to protect yourself and your valuable asset of hearing. Learn more.. 

What is 3D printing?

June 2, 2016

What is 3D printing?

We’ve all heard about 3D and understand the concept of 3 dimensional (3D) viewing but how does that translate into 3D printing?

3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file (picture). The descriptive term for 3D printing is “Additive Manufacturing” which gives us a visual clue as to the process behind 3D printing. The object is actually created through a layering process utilizing specialized 3D scanners and 3D printers.

How does the 3D Printing Process work?

The first step is to create a virtual design or blueprint of the object you want to create. This can be created using a 3D modeling program in a CAD (Computer Aided Design) An existing object can be copied with the use of a 3D scanner. This technology is being used by many technology companies such as Microsoft and Google who have developing hardware to perform 3D scanning. Microsoft’s Kinect is an example of what the future may hold for smartphones and other hand-held devices having integrated 3D scanners. In the very near future this digitalization of real objects into 3D models will be performed as easily as taking a picture on your smart phone is now.

The 3D printing software “slices” the final model into hundreds or even thousands of layers several microns thick in preparation for printing

The second step to the process is sending the finished design to the 3D Printer where the received data is now recreated by bonding very thin layers of resin together into a finished object. There are several different methods and materials used in 3D printing depending upon the object needeDigital Printing d to be manufactured but the one similarity is the use of a layering process.[1]

Depending upon your desired finished product there are several options or types of 3D printing. Some involve heating and solidifying granular material by laser technology with each slice in the needed pattern. This is repeated over and over again with each patterned layer bonding to the previous layer as it cools. Other 3D printers will spool out or deposit material much like an automated glue gun while others use UV light to cure layers of resin.

How does Custom Protect Ear (CPE) utilize this 3D Technology to help your ears?

CPE is using this “cutting edge” technology (literally!) to compliment their existing high quality custom hearing protection.

The digital 3D printing technology used by CPE creates an accurate and precise Hearing Protection Device (HPD). CPE utilizes DLP (Digital Light Processing) technology (the most precise in the market) through the EnvisionTEC ULTRA® 2 printer.  The technology provides benefits both to the wearer and to the product development process:

  • Quality in consistency during HPD modeling means accuracy and precision
  • Quality Control during product implementation ensures proper fit for the wearer
  • New designs can now be updated and printed in real time, improving implementation of new design developments.

The DLP technology allows for the ability to add more product features in ways which were not always possible before. For example, CPE can place an employee number or serial number of any size anywhere on the HPD, unlike being limited to the outer surface with traditional technology.

The traditional method of producing ear moulds includes manual physical cutting and grinding of the ear impressions to shape them close to the shape of the finished product. Plaster moulds are then created based on these impressions, and silicone is placed into the prepared moulds.

The final quality performance check (ensuring the HPD is accurate and precise) is completed when the original impression and the new 3D model are overlayed on screen Following this, the moulds are printed in the digital 3D printer. The final HPD is obtained by pouring silicone material into the mould.

The 3D Approach

3D Printing digital moulds

CPE has been using this new 3D approach for almost 3.5 years integrating it with their already custom design method of producing ear moulds for dB Blockers, dB Com and dB Life products. The ability to create complex objects is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry and improving quality and consistency in products produced using this 3D technology.

JUST MORE PROOF THAT CPE IS COMMITTED TO THEIR CUSTOMERS WITH ONGOING RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY IN THEIR BEST PRACTICES.

~ by Howard Raphael 
CEO Custom Protect Ear

 

[1] http://3dprinting.com/what-is-3d-printing/

 

2016 Tradeshows

January 24, 2016

2016 Tradeshows Attended by CPE in Canada

Come out and see CPE in your local area. In 2016 we will be attending the following trade shows in Canada.

Come check out our latest products and hearing protection technology. For more information about our attendance at trade shows please email us at hear@protectear.com
Feb 1-2, 2016 
2016 Industrial Safety Seminar
Saskatoon, SK
Booth #77

About the Safety Seminar

Every year Saskatchewan’s Premier Safety event brings together hundreds of safety professionals from across North America to see the latest products, services, and information in over 100 safety and related display booths from organizations from across North America.

The 43rd Annual Industrial Safety Seminar will take place on February 1, 2, and 3, 2016 at Prairieland Exhibition Park, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. CPE Seminar will be conducted by Andy Caswell
April 11-12, 2016 Vancouver
2016 Western Conference on Safety
Hyatt Regency
Booth #35

About The 2016 Western Conference on Safety

Welcome to the 21st Annual Western Conference on Safety, Western Canada’s largest occupational health and safety event. Each year, members of the conference steering committee search throughout North America seeking out the best topics and speakers and bringing them to the Western Conference on Safety.

Last year was a great success and was the 12th year hosting the conference at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver with more than 1150 people coming out to participate.

The conference includes a blend of seminars airmed at everyone from the new safety committee member to the most experienced safety professional. With over 20 sessions, keynote presentations and an 80 booth tradeshow this conference has something for everyone.

Apr 17-19, Halifax, NS
Workplace Health & Safety Conference
Booth #407

The Human Element of Safety  

Sessions offer something for all safety professionals, from the safety committee member to the shop floor and warehouse worker.

Apr 26-27, 2016 – Mississauga, ON
PARTNERS IN PREVENTION 2016
Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show
Booth #713

What people say about the PIP Show

I have attended this conference both as a delegate and a presenter and have always found this conference to be top-notch in terms of the planning, venue, quality of the key note speakers and the multitude of topics covered. I would highly recommend that anyone with a vested interest in health and safety attend this conference. ~ Steve Hinds, Senior H&S Specialist, ArcelorMittal Dofasco

Manufacturers profitably reduce hearing loss risk, ensuring compliance

November 9, 2015

The hearing loss prevention trifecta: Fit, Comfort, and Communication while wearing

To tackle the severe occupational hearing loss problem in manufacturing, a new generation of occupational hearing protection has been designed with custom fit, comfort and ability to communicate while wearing.

“Most people wear disposable foam earplugs incorrectly, which limits their effectiveness,” says John Franks, PhD, a former NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention Section Chief.

“Each foam earplug is supposed to be rolled tightly, put deep in your ear canal, then held in place with your index finger until it fully expands and you can just see the outer edge. Instead, most people leave them hanging out of their ears.”

Protect Ear

Custom Protect Ear (www.protectear.com), custom molds its dB Blockers product line to each worker’s ear. The safety Manager protectearcompany’s representatives take impressions of each worker’s ear canal and outer ear and train workers on how to ensure proper fit. Greater comfort addresses the problem facing health and safety managers of getting people to wear hearing protection and policing their use. A filter and vent in the db Blockers can make speech more understandable by reducing attenuation at higher speech frequencies.

Custom Protect Ear connects incoming radio audio to the outside of the db Blocker so the device’s filter reduces dB volume and the worker does not have to remove the hearing protector during his or her shift.

For more info, call Protect Ear USA toll-free at 1-800-520-0220 ext. 323;

Email: hearus@protectear.com; or visit www.protectear.com/us.

In Canada, call Custom Protect Ear toll-free at 1-800-520-0220 ext 321; Fax: 604-599-7377;

Email: hear@protectear.com; or visit www.protectear.com.

Hearing Loss in the Mining Industry

November 27, 2012

The most common occupational illness for miners is hearing loss. Immediately noise levels come to mind – the large drilling machines, close proximity to loud machines and the reverberation off the walls of the mine. According to NIOSH and the CDC, by age 60, 75% of miners have a hearing impairment due to exposure to noise jumping castle.
Hearing Protection for Miners in the Mining Industry
Hearing loss is 100% preventable and unfortunately, once it occurs, there is no cure. You may not even notice that the damage has occurred right away, because it causes no pain and the damage is not visible.

If you are a miner and have loss of hearing, you may experience these symptoms:

• Difficulty hearing warning signals
• Difficulty hearing what someone is saying
• Accidents
• Ringing or buzzing in your ears
• After you leave a noisy area, your hearing may seem dull or muffled
• Headaches
• Tiredness
• Stress

Miners 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. Custom Protect Ear 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.

Our product is safer for miners because it allows them to hear. Hear warning signals, hear backup alarms, and hear the roof. Our dB Blockers™ are made from a non-flammable, hypoallergenic silicon blend (called SkinSoft™) unlike disposable earplugs, which are flammable and make users prone to ear infections. Disposable foam earplugs also swell when they come in contact with water or perspiration.
We urge you to consider Custom Protect Ear dB Blockers for your mine for a product that can be worn for an entire shift because if you can’t hear, it’s not clear.

Something new at Custom Protect Ear

August 28, 2012

Hearing Protection That Is More Proficient Than Ever

Those of you who visit the Custom Protect Ear (CPE) website often will have noticed a change recently (if you are one the site regularly you either work for us or need to get out more).  For the first time in our 36-year history, CPE is distributing a product we don’t make.  We have decided to distribute the Sensear product line in conjunction with our dB Blocker hearing protectors.  Why?  Because we are committed to being proficient in all forms of hearing protection for all circumstances.  Adding the Sensear product line completes our range (and completes Sensear’s product line as well).

Hearing Protection to complete the CPE Product Range. How?

If you wear hearing aids you need to preserve what is left of your hearing (I certainly would). How do you do that? You need your hearing aid(s) to fill in the missing frequencies so you know what is happening around you. But you still need to reduce the overall volume to a safe level. That an easy job for a muff style hearing protector.  BUT with most muff style hearing protectors you lose the ability to “hear” from where sounds are coming.  This loss of “situational awareness” can be deadly in a online casino noisy plant. Sensear Smart Muffs

Using the Sensear Smart Muff we can now provide  the hearing protection you need with enhanced situational awareness.  Finally, we have the right solution for persons who have already lost some hearing.

Ever been in a smelter?  The air can be toxic, the noise is deafening, but people have to work there. To keep safe they wear protective suits with helmets and shrouds.  To breathe they wear respirators connected to breathable air.  And to communicate they…exactly, how do you communicate with a shroud over your head and a respirator on your mouth?

SP Smart Plug

You use the Sensear SP unit with a dB Blocker earpiece. The earpiece and SP unit capture speech in the ear and broadcast it on whichever radio you are using.  Using Sensear’s SP with a dB Blocker earpiece you can now have perfect hearing effective radio communication in up to 110 dBA of noise.

Person to person communication?  How about hand signals.


Double Protection Smart Muffs

Mining is a noisy business.   Some parts of mining are noisier than others. When you have miners working in various parts of the mine, it often difficult to ensure they always have the right amount of protection from the noise – not too much and certainly not too little.  Using dB Blockers, we provide miners with great personal protection that will allow them to hear the “roof” and warning sounds.  When they have to move to louder areas, we fit a Sensear Smart Muff right over their blockers and they can hear their radios and speak to others in up to 120 dB (using the SDP muff). SDP-with-dB-blocker

These are just a few of the applications CPE can now address more capably by distributing Sensear.  Sensear also now has access to custom made earpieces for their units which affords the wearer enhanced comfort and attenuation.   It’s a marriage made in hearing.

Learn more about Smart Muffs. 

 

The Top 6 Noisiest Jobs: Hearing Loss by Occupation

August 9, 2012

db-blocker-3I was recently perusing the ISHN Facebook fan page and saw this article posted. It is a very interesting article, something definitely worth sharing since one of the most forgotten senses is hearing. As individuals we tend to take our hearing for granted, until it is too late. In a noisy world full of sound devices, traffic & construction, congestion and especially  noise in our workplaces it is important to be cognoscente of the potential harm we could be doing to our hearing.  enjoy the read. Hearing Protection

Hearing Loss by Occupation

Is your job causing hearing loss? Your hearing is an incredibly valuable asset in the workplace. Unfortunately, some workplace environments may be more damaging to your eardrums than others. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that 22 million US workers are exposed to potentially dangerous levels of noise in the workplace each year. Unhealthy noise levels are one of the most common causes of hearing loss, and can lead to shocking statistics in some occupations. If you work in one of these six loudest workplaces, you may want to consider the effects your work environment may be having on your hearing.

Hearing Loss in Manufacturing

Hearing loss is the most commonly recorded occupational illness in manufacturing, accounting for 1 in 9 recordable illnesses. The reasons behind these staggering numbers are obvious, with all the large and loud machinery in this line of business. And this problem is all over the nation. Manufacturing is one of the largest industries in the U.S., which means hearing loss can spread rapidly. In fact, a study in Michigan reveals that more than half of all cases of permanent workplace hearing loss is caused by the manufacturing sector. Learn about Personalized Hearing Protection for Manufacturing Companies.

Hearing Loss in Construction, Carpentry and Mining

Hearing loss in the workplace

Whether outside your window, on your walk to work or anywhere else on the street, you may be painfully familiar with the extreme noise levels of construction sites. Now imagine working there. For the country’s construction workers, these sounds can be particularly hazardous to hearing health. Long periods of exposure to noise over 85dB is considered dangerous to one’s hearing, yet many of the most common construction tools make noise well above this cautionary value. Let’s consider one the noisiest yet most common construction tools: the hammer drill. This ear-shattering tool registers at nearly 115dB. With these dangerous decibels, whether you are performing construction work at home or for pay, make sure to wear the right kind of ear protection. Learn more about the Industry.  Now Available: SMART MUFFS for double hearing protection

Miners and carpenters are particularly affected due to a similarly noisy tool set, as the next couple of graphs can attest.

Construction Noise lossMany common carpentry tools can be hazardous to your ear health. 

Hearing Loss as a Motorcycle Courier

Traveling on a motorbike beyond 50mph, can expose the driver to up to 90dB of noise under the helmet. The maximum recommended exposure limit at this level is 2.5-3 hours at a time. While slow city traffic might be more manageable, it’s more the day-in/day-out exposure, as well as longer travels on open roads that do the damage. Courier or no courier, all bikers can be affected. Learn how bikers can protect their hearing. 

Hearing Loss in Entertainment and Nightlife

All that hubbub can hurt your ears. Loud music is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Employees at bars, nightclubs, or concert hallsmight be enduring dangerous sound levels every night of the week.Most nightlife hotspots operate at levels well above 100 dB, which means the mood music may be doing some mega damage. Bartenders, performers, and security should all be well aware of these dangers, and seek out special earplugs specifically made for musicians. This also goes for rock stars. There  are available hearing protection for individuals and musicians.

Hearing Loss for Airport staff

If you have ever taken a look at an airport runway, you may notice the brightly colored ear protection worn by airport traffic directors. These are not just a fashion statement, but indeed a necessary precaution. The sound of a jet engine is one of the loudest auditory occupational hazards, with sound levels at a shocking 140dB. Sound waves are invisible, but at this level, they pack a whopping force. You can find the appropriate hearing protection for Airport and Security staff. 

Hearing Loss for Shooting Range Marshals

Guns and other firearms are loud, ask any military veteran. Shooting range marshals, if not carefully protected with heavy duty on-ear protectors or custom made ear plugs, can be exposed to up to 140dB of noise exposure during any given day. One more reason to think twice about that next excursion to the shooting range or hunting trip.

Fortunately, there are many preventative measures in order to mitigate the effects of workplace-induced hearing loss. Appropriate ear protection, in addition to the right diet, can keep your hearing health top-notch. And as always, Audicus is here to keep your hearing at its very highest…. and discreetest. Learn More hearing loss in the Shooting industry. 

Article by  Patrick Freuler. Read original article here. 

dB-blocker-

Work Related Hearing Loss in the Manufacturing Industry

June 5, 2012

Manufacturing Industry Hearing LossWhen trying to protect their hearing, are you solving the wrong problem? According to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 22 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noises each year. The CDC reports that in 2007, “82% of the cases involving occupational hearing loss were reported among workers in the manufacturing sector.” That’s 8 out of every 10 workers who are employed in the manufacturing industry. In fact, hearing loss is the most common form of work-related injury reported in the manufacturing sector according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It seems that what most are doing isn’t working.

Most work related hearing loss occurs gradually in the first ten years of employment in a manufacturing environment. That means that many new employees won’t even think about protecting their hearing until they are required to. Because the damage is done slowly over time, the worker will not notice a problem until methods of prevention are too late. Even when a manufacturing plant takes the necessary steps to engineer out the noise, hearing protection like Custom Protect Ear’s dB Blockers is still needed to prevent noise induced hearing loss. So, if companies are providing hearing protection, why do we still have the problem? Let’s start by looking at the noise sources.

Where’s the Noise Coming From?

What’s causing all the noise? In the manufacturing industry, nearly every procedure produces enough noise to cause hearing loss over time. For example, the U.K.’s Health and Safety Executive bureau lists the following processes in the food and drink manufacturing industries as high noise emitters:

1. Glass bottling lines: 85-100dB(A)
2. Product impact on hoppers: 90-100dB(A)
3. Wrapping, cutting wrap, bagging etc.: 85-95dB(A)
4. Bowl choppers: > 90db(A)
5. Pneumatic noise and compressed air: 85-95dB(A)
6. Milling operations: 85-100dB(A)
7. Saws/cutting machinery: 85-107dB(A)
8. Blast chillers/freezers: 85-107dB(A)
9. Packaging machinery: 85-95dB(A)
10. Wheeled trolleys/racks: up to 107dB(A) (from wheel bearings)

So what’s not working?

The fly in the ointment is communication. From the dawn of mankind, our ears have been the primary source of safety for the human. That’s the reason we have no “ear lids”. We can never turn our hearing off. And it is a good thing too. Hearing detects in all the hazards, in all directions in three dimensional space, whether were awake or asleep. To protect our hearing by disabling it, flies in the face of this fact. So workers enable their hearing by disabling their protection. And it is not just the worker who suffers.

Everyone Loses with Hearing Loss

The toll of occupational hearing loss isn’t just felt by the workers. It’s also a financial burden on the manufacturer. Hearing loss is a valid form of workers compensation, and if an individual can prove that he or she suffers from occupational related hearing loss from long-time noise exposure in the workplace, the business will have to pay a costly settlement. How much? In the United States, an estimated $242 million is spent annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss disability. The bottom line: When an employee suffers occupational hearing loss, everyone loses. That does NOT include the value of the knowledge the worker with hearing loss possess that is less able to be accessed because communication is so difficult.

Prevent Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Stop occupational noise induced hearing loss before it stops you. If you are an owner or manager of a manufacturing company, whether big or small, protect your best assets – your workers – by sound proofing your workplace and providing workplace hearing protection they can hear through to your employees. If you are an employee, educate yourself on the dangers of manufacturing noise and insist on personalized, dB Blocker hearing protection you can hear through to prevent further hearing damage.