Think of the environment when selecting your hearing protection device

May 23, 2017

Think of the environment when selecting your hearing protection device

Hearing environment

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.

Disposables vs Earplugs – Cost Scenario 1

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

  • 4 disposable earplugs/day  X 15¢/pair for 50 weeks/year = $150.00 per employee/year
  • 1 pair of custom earplugs is generally less than $150.00 for the expected 5 year life of the earplugs (the cartilage in our ears continues to change throughout our lifetime and subtle changes can affect the seal of the protectors over time, therefore it is recommended that new moulds be taken minimally every 5 years).
  • Disposable earplugs @ $150.00/year for 5 years = DO THE MATH! ($750.00 per 1 employee vs $150.00 for custom earplugs per employee every 5 years) 

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:

  • Reducing energy consumption and by purchasing strictly green power: generated from renewable resources.
  • Reducing landfill waste by making hearing protectors with a 5 year life span and by reusing, recycling or reclaiming waste materials whenever we can.
  • Making all marketing materials available in digital formats that can be supplied over the internet; and when printed, only on post-consumer papers with environmentally sensitive inks.
  • Refining our production processes to engineer out any adverse effects on the environment.

Ear Plug Environmental Scenario

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) Disposable Ear Plugs

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

  • dB Blockers™ are fit to each employee’s ear exactly – eliminating ear pressure and discomfort
  • Enhanced communication in noise on the phone or in conversation
  • Allows the employee to hear warning sounds
  • Manufactured with SkinSoft™ hypoallergenic, non-flammable silicone

Learn more about dB Blockers

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> 


SOURCES:

https://www.audiologyinnovations.ca/custom-earplugs/the-benefits-of-custom-moulded-earplugs/

http://www.soundguard.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/The-toxic-truth-about-disposable-earplugs.pdf

 

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. 

I CAN’T HEAR YOU! over all that noise…

May 12, 2017

DOES ANYONE LIKE LOUD NOISES?

Loud noise at work can damage people’s hearing and lead to safety risks.

What harm can noise cause?

Hearing harmful noise at work can cause permanent and disabling hearing damage. Hearing loss can be gradual due to exposure to noise over time, but may also be caused by sudden, extremely loud noises. Hearing loss damage is disabling as it can prevent people from comprehending speech, keeping up with conversations or even using the telephone. Hearing loss is not the only problem that may occur. People may develop tinnitus (a ringing, whistling, buzzing or humming in the ears) which is a distressing condition that can result in disturbed sleep. Noise can create safety issues at work interfering with communications and making warnings harder to hear. It can also reduce people’s awareness of their surroundings.

Noise issues can compromise safety – putting people at risk of injury or death.

Health and Safety – Noise at WorkWork in noise

Depending on the level of risk, companies should: take action to reduce noise exposure; and provide employees with personal hearing protection. Other duties under the Regulations include the need to: make sure the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded; maintain and ensure the use of equipment in place to control noise risks; provide employees with information, instruction, and training; and carry out health surveillance (monitor workers’ hearing ability). The Regulations apply where work activities expose people at work (your employees or other workers affected by your work activities) to risks to their health and safety from noise.

A company must ask itself,

Is there a noise problem in the workplace? Something must be done about the noise if any of the following conditions apply:

  • the noise is intrusive – for example, as noisy as a busy road, a vacuum cleaner or a crowded restaurant – or worse than intrusive, for most of the working day
  • employees have to raise their voices to carry out a normal conversation when about 2 m apart for at least part of the day
  • employees use noisy powered tools or machinery for more than half an hour each day
  • your industry is known to have noisy tasks, e.g. construction, demolition or road repair; woodworking; plastics processing; engineering; textile manufacture; general fabrication; forging or stamping; paper or board making; canning or bottling; foundries; waste and recycling; noises due to impacts (such as hammering, drop forging, pneumatic impact tools etc.), explosive sources such as cartridge-operated tools or detonators, or guns.

Situations, where you will need to consider safety issues in relation to noise, include where you use warning sounds to avoid or alert to dangerous situations; where working practices rely on verbal communications; and where there is work around mobile machinery or traffic.

As an employer you have identified NOISE AT WORK, you should carry out an assessment to decide what action is needed, and develop a HEARING LOSS PREVENTION PLAN.

A risk assessment means more than just taking measurements of noise – measurements may not even be necessary.

A risk assessment should identify where there may be a risk of noise and who is likely to be affected.  The assessment should include:  identifying any risks to health; any risks to safety; contain an estimate of an employee’s exposure to noise (see ‘Noise exposure levels’); identify what needs to be done to comply with the law.  You should determine whether noise-control measures and/or personal hearing protection are needed; or whether working practices are safe, and identify any employees who need to be provided with health surveillance and whether any are at particular risk. You must record the findings of your risk assessment. You must also record the action you have taken, or intend to take, to comply with the law. You should review your risk assessment if circumstances change or if it is no longer valid. For example: if the work changes and this affects workers’ noise exposure, or there are changes to the availability, applicability of noise-control measures, then a review is necessary. You should conduct a review often – never leaving it longer than two years between reviews.

Hearing Protection Devices; dB Blockers™dB Blockers

Wherever or whenever there is noise at work, you should be always looking out for better protection against noise such as better hearing protection devices, equipment and/or working methods which would reduce the noise or ensuring people are exposed for shorter periods of time.

The good news is that if you have identified noise is an issue, there are ample product solutions that can fit and reduce your noise problems. Ask about dB Blocker™ personalized hearing protection products.  dB Blockers™ are hearing protection products made to fit an individual’s ear exactly, giving the wearer a custom hearing protector (earplug) that can be worn all day long, while receiving “REAL WORLD” (what the wearer actually receives) attenuation.

Take control of the noise, before it controls your workplace!

As an employer, it is vital to your role to keep up with what is good practice or the standard for noise-control within your industry, (e.g. through your regulating bodies, your trade association, or machinery and equipment suppliers). Where your employees are likely to be exposed at or above the upper exposure action values, you must take action to reduce noise exposure with a planned program of noise control. Even where noise exposures are below upper exposure action values, you should take action to reduce the risks and find appropriate hearing protection devices, thereby reducing exposure further. Any action you take should be ‘reasonably practicable’ – in proportion to the level of risk. If exposure is below lower action values, the risk is low and it is likely no action is required; you should continue to practice diligence and consider taking action if there are simple, inexpensive practical steps that would further reduce risk.

Partners in Prevention 2017

May 2, 2017

May 2-3, 2017

Workplace Safety

Partners in Prevention 2017
Canada’s Largest Health & Safety Event

The two-day show focuses on building valuable relationships and growing sales opportunities. Partners in Prevention’s robust show floor will host over 400 booths featuring the latest in market trends, products and services.Workshops. Networking. New products. Health & safety peers. It’s all at Partners in Prevention 2017 Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show. Reserve your spot today!


Be sure to come to the ProtectEar Booth at the PIP show!Booth #613
PIP show

How much is a Noisy Workplace actually costing you?

April 25, 2017

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.

Car Plant
Example: Workers wearing no hearing protection in a Chrysler car plant.

Cost of Noise

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.

  1. Your productivity is being seriously impacted.
  2. Your cost of goods are rising from mistakes.
  3. You’re spending at least $310/year for every employee in your hearing conservation program.
  4. Your Risk Management costs are rising
  5. Hearing protection alone is costing you $150/person/year
  6. Supervisors spending an extra 30 minutes a day trying to communicate in noise – @ $30.00/hour

If this is applicable to you, then most likely your incurring a extra cost of  $4,000/year. You do the Math!


What is the Cost of Noise

Industrial Hearing loss

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.

What are 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.

 The benefits of dB Blockers™ 

  • clear and continuous communication during the performance of shared tasks
  • improved teamwork and increased mobilitydB-blocker-
  • the ability to provide verbal warnings in real time
  • fewer accidents and lower insurance costs
  • the ability for construction crews to get more done in less time

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.

dB Blocker™ Classic Intercanal (Vented). Learn More.
dB Blocker™ Classic Intercanal (Vented). Learn More.

 

Hearing Self-Test by Wayne Staab

April 19, 2017

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?


Predicting Hearing Level Without an Audiogram?

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.

 

Staying Bluetooth Connected and dB Blocker™ Protected!

April 17, 2017

Custom Protect Ear is proud to announce that wireless Bluetooth Connectivity is now available with dB Blockers™.  Custom Protect Ear now integrates its’ flagship product, dB Blocker™ custom earpieces, with 2 Jabra Bluetooth products providing users a better communication experience while staying protected in noise. Introducing the Jabra Halo Bluetooth and the Jabra Mini Bluetooth.

HALO:Jabra Halo

The Jabra Halo Bluetooth is a light-weight headset which easily attaches to the dB Blocker™ custom comfort earpieces. The Halo is compatible with Bluetooth enabled phones and radios and can pair with up to 8 devices. The Jabra headset coupled with a dB Blocker™ filtered earpiece will enhance voice reception while keeping the wearer protected in loud environments.

The Jabra Halo Bluetooth and dB Blocker™ earpieces are designed for maximum comfort and convenience, wireless connectivity and protection from damaging noise exposure.

Jabra Halo Headset features:

  • Remains connected to two devices at the same time
  • Rain and water resistant
  • Wind-protected, noise cancelling microphone
  • Operates in temperatures of -10°C to 55°C / 15°F to 140°F
  • Call vibration alert, voice button, answer call, end call, reject call
  • voice dialing & last number redial capability, volume control,
  • voice guidance
  • dB Blocker™ Convertible Vented Earpieces are

compatible with the Jabra Halo Smart headset

  • Battery Life

2 hour Charge Time: 17 hour Talk Time: 22 day Standby

MINI:

The Jabra Mini Bluetooth is a light weight Bluetooth unit supported Jabra Bluetoothby the dB Blocker™ custom comfort earpiece that can pair with up to 8 devices. The Jabra Mini is a smart device as it remains connected to two devices at the same time and has Voice dialing–activate the voice control on your mobile device with a press on the headset. The Jabra Mini and dB Blocker™ custom filtered earpieces bring “hands free” to a whole new level and all while still protecting your hearing.

Jabra Mini Bluetooth features:

  • Power Nap–battery saving mode
  • Battery and pairing status display
  • Operates in temperatures of -10°C to 55°C / 15°F to 140°F
  • Answer call, end call, Jabra status display™ displaying connection and battery status, voice guidance, multiuse™*
  • Battery Life

                    2 hour Charge Time: 9 hour Talk Time: 9 day Standby

These innovative products are available at Custom Protect Ear and ProtectEar USA. (Link to websites) The Jabra Bluetooth comes with a 1 Year manufacture warranty and the dB Blocker™ Custom Earpieces come with a 90 Day Fit Warranty & 3 Year Material Warranty.

About Custom Protect Ear

“The Smartest Hearing Protection in the World”  

For over four decades, Custom Protect Ear has been the leader in providing effective, verifiable, and noise level matched hearing protection at a cost lower than disposable ear plugs. Custom Protect Ear strives to meet and exceed the industry standards in hearing protection and communication by offering a comfortable, affordable and effective line of hearing protection and communication devices. Custom Protect Ear specializes in the manufacture of custom made hearing protectors.  Every dB Blocker™ is individually crafted for each unique ear based on a personal ear mold.

###

To learn more about dB Blocker™ custom earpieces, the Jabra Halo Bluetooth headset and Jabra Mini, please contact us at:

Laura Bennett
Director, Business Development
E. lbennett@protectear.com
TF. 1.800.520.0220 ext. 322
D. 604.635.3250

Noise Pollution – Yes it’s bad for your health

April 13, 2017

Noise Pollution: What is it

Every day, we experience sound in our environment, such as the sounds from television and radio, household appliances, and traffic. Normally, these sounds are at safe levels that don’t damage our hearing. But sounds can be harmful when they are too loud, even for a brief time, or when they are both loud and long-lasting.

The growing noise pollution problem has many different causes. Booming population growth and the loss of rural land to urban sprawl both play a role. Other causes include the lack of adequate anti-noise regulations in many parts of the world; the electronic nature of our age, which encourages many noisy gadgets; the rising number of vehicles on the roads; and busier airports.

noise pollution

What is Noise Pollution: Environmental Protection Agency

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency Noise Pollution is:

“The traditional definition of noise is “unwanted or disturbing sound”.  Sound becomes unwanted when it either interferes with normal activities such as sleeping, conversation, or disrupts or diminishes one’s quality of life.  The fact that you can’t see, taste or smell it may help explain why it has not received as much attention as other types of pollution, such as air pollution, or water pollution.  The air around us is constantly filled with sounds, yet most of us would probably not say we are surrounded by noise.  Though for some, the persistent and escalating sources of sound can often be considered an annoyance.  This “annoyance” can have major consequences, primarily to one’s overall health.”¹

In the 1970s, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a recommended noise exposure limit of 55 decibels in a 24-hour period, with nighttime noise weighted more heavily because it can interfere with sleep. For comparison, a quiet suburb has a decibel level of about 50, while freeway traffic is closer to 70 and a chain saw is 120 decibels.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has long identified transportation—passenger vehicles, trains, buses, motorcycles, medium and heavy trucks, and aircraft—as one of the most pervasive outdoor noise sources, estimating in its 1981 Noise Effects Handbook that more than 100 million people in the United States are exposed to noise sources from traffic near their homes.

Noise pollution is an often-overlooked source of environmental stress that can raise your risk of serious health conditions, including heart disease. In the US it’s estimated that 100 million people are exposed to unhealthy levels of noise, typically from automobile and aircraft traffic (although everything from leaf blowers and lawnmowers to loud music can also contribute). If you find yourself exposed to noise pollution on a daily basis, we strongly suggest you protect your earing with two way communication Hearing Protection Devices such a dB Blockers.

Quieting Noise Pollution Could Save $3.9 Billion a Yearnoise

Noise pollution may increase your risk of hearing loss, stress, sleep disturbances, and heart disease. A new analysis conducted an environmental assessment of US noise pollution as a cardiovascular health hazard, and revealed small decreases in noise could add up to major economic savings.

The analyses suggested that a 5-decibel noise reduction would reduce the prevalence of high blood pressure by 1.4 percent and coronary heart disease by 1.8 percent. The annual economic benefit was estimated at $3.9 billion.3

The researchers assumed that noise exposure levels in 2013 were the same as those assessed in 1981. However, as urbanization has increased it’s likely these are underestimates and reductions in noise may impact even more people than the study suggested.

Silence is Golden

If you can’t avoid a noisy environment, should you play white noise in order to drown out the rest? White noise is a nondescript background hum, kind of like the noise of a fan or of someone saying “Shhhh!” continuously. Listening to white noise may turn out to be better than listening to intermittent speech if it successfully drowns out the speech, but that doesn’t mean it’s ideal. Learn more about how to protect yourself from noise.

 


SOURCES:

  1. https://www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-overview/clean-air-act-title-iv-noise-pollution
  2. Senior author Richard L. Neitzel of the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor told Reuters:
  3. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/06/20/noise-pollution.aspx

 

 

 

Hearing Conservation Program

March 30, 2017

NIHL & Hearing Conservation Program

A Hearing Conservation Program consisting of noise hazard identification, hearing protection, education, hearing testing and noise reduction, will reduce the potential of WSIB claims lasting decades.

Common side effects of hearing loss include:

  • Communication Problems
  • Social Isolation
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue

Noise induced hearing loss

Noise induced hearing loss is a permanent hearing impairment resulting from prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. One in 10 Americans has a hearing loss that affects his or her ability to understand normal speech. Excessive noise exposure is the most common cause of hearing loss.

“The National Institute of Health reports that about 15 percent of Americans aged 20 to 69 have high frequency hearing loss related to occupational or leisure activities.”

NIHL begins by impairing the ability to hear high pitch sounds such as beeps and whistles. It is these tones that break up words into syllables, without which, voices (particularly women’s and children’s) sound muffled, as though they were talking with their hands over your mouth. These tones also provide the directional cues that help us locate the source of a sound. Diminished ability to hear these tones can lead to accidents, miscommunication, and other costly mistakes both on the job and elsewhere. And eventually, the hearing loss begins to spread to the lower pitch tones as well, making it difficult to hear all voices, music, and many other things in our everyday life.

“Torey Nalbone, associate professor and chair of civil engineering at the University of Texas at Tyler, suggests it’s the unprotected noises that we take for granted that are short durations at significant intensity levels – those are the ones that are sneaking up on workers and causing hearing conservation problems.”

Hearing Conservation

Impact of NIHL

Employees with noise induced hearing loss often describe their lives as one of isolation, both at work and at home. They get confused and are unable to follow conversations, especially in crowded, noisy places. And because they have trouble hearing voices, they often live under tremendous anxiety and stress that affects both their job and their family life.

Under OSHA rules, the permissible exposure limit for noise in the construction industry is 90 decibels, measured as an 8-hour time-weighted average. At that level, employers are required to provide a hearing conservation program for workers. However, NIOSH advocates lowering the PEL in construction to 85 dBA, which is the cap OSHA sets for general industry.

Hearing Conservation: When an employer is required to provide hearing protectors

Employers must provide hearing protectors to all workers exposed to 8-hour TWA noise levels of 85 dB or above. This requirement ensures that employees have access to protectors before they experience any hearing loss.

Employees must wear hearing protectors:

  • For any period exceeding 6 months from the time they are first exposed to 8-hour TWA noise levels of 85 dB or above, until they receive their baseline audiograms if these tests are delayed due to mobile test van scheduling;
  • If they have incurred standard threshold shifts that demonstrate they are susceptible to noise; and
  • If they are exposed to noise over the permissible exposure limit of 90 dB over an 8-hour TWA.

Employers must provide employees with a selection of at least one variety of hearing plug and one variety of hearing muff. Employees should decide, with the help of a person trained to fit hearing protectors, which size and type protector is most suitable for the working environment. The protector selected should be comfortable to wear and offer sufficient protection to prevent hearing loss.

Hearing protectors must adequately reduce the noise level for each employee’s work environment. Most employers use the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that represents the protector’s ability to reduce noise under ideal laboratory conditions. The employer then adjusts the NRR to reflect noise reduction in the actual working environment.

The employer must reevaluate the suitability of the employee’s hearing protector whenever a change in working conditions may make it inadequate. If workplace noise levels increase, employees must give employees more effective protectors. The protector must reduce employee exposures to at least 90 dB and to 85 dB when an STS already has occurred in the worker’s hearing. Employers must show employees how to use and care for their protectors and supervise them on the job to ensure that they continue to wear them correctly. [1]

Prevention: Establish a workplace Hearing Conservation Program

Most NIHL is due to over-exposure to high noise levels in the workplace and it is the responsibility of the employer to prevent this over-exposure with a hearing conservation program. This does not simply mean giving them some hearing protectors and leaving them on their own. What type of hearing protector is appropriate? What is the appropriate noise reduction rating for the protectors? Do you know the actual noise level the will be used in? How will you ensure the hearing protectors will be worn properly (or at all)? Have you considered reducing the noise at the source? This could potentially eliminate the risk altogether. Maybe the cost of buying a quieter hand tool is less than the long-term cost of the hearing protectors. A comprehensive HCP will deal with all of these issues and ensure the long-term hearing safety of the workers.

A comprehensive Hearing Conservation Program consists of the following elements:

  • Noise Survey and Noise Dosimetry measurement
  • Engineered noise control
  • Hazard postings
  • Hearing Protectors (See dB Blockers) 
  • Baseline & annual hearing tests
  • Hearing Safety Education and Training
  • Annual program review

So if you are looking to reduce noise where you can, provide hearing protection devices where you can’t, help the participants understand the program and how it benefits them, and check them regularly for hearing loss, then we suggest you get a Hearing Conservation Program tailored to your company’s needs.

A strong emphasis must be put on the educational components of the program. These will be the cornerstone of the program and will play a large part in the relative success.

Hearing Conservation Resources: 

CPE Hearing Conservation Checklist

Management Essentials for an Effective Hearing Conservation Program


SOURCES 

[1] https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3074/osha3074.html

http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/10077-creating-a-sound-hearing-conservation-program

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3074/osha3074.html

While Riding, what’s in your ears …

March 24, 2017

While Riding, what’s in your ears …

It’s time to make some noise about hearing protection.

“Most motorcyclists are diligent about wearing helmets and sturdy apparel to protect the parts of our bodies that are most likely to get injured in an accident. However, there is a part of your body that may be suffering damage every time you ride, even if you never fall down—your ears. As riders we are regularly exposed to noise levels that put us at risk of permanent hearing loss, the same as industrial workers, heavy metal musicians, and machine gunners.”

According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, noise induced Hearing loss is the most common permanent and preventable occupational injury in the world. Hearing loss can occur from a single extremely loud sound such as an explosion, but more often than not it’s incurred gradually over time. Just as skin cancer usually grows as a result of regular exposure to the sun, noise induced hearing loss is most commonly the result of repeated and prolonged exposure to elevated noise levels. The unfortunate reality is that riding a motorcycle is a noisy endeavor, and the more you do it, the more likely you are to damage your hearing.

 The most widely recognized resource for recommendations on noise exposure limits is OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). OSHA offers a sliding scale showing that the louder the noise, the shorter the time your ears can safely be exposed to it. Noise intensity is measured in decibels and the decibel scale is logarithmic, so a noise that registers at 70 decibels (say, a vacuum cleaner) is 10 times louder than normal conversation, which typically rings in at 60 decibels. Sounds above 120 decibels (an ambulance siren) may be painful to hear and so would clearly pose a risk to your hearing health, but OSHA says permanent hearing loss can occur with sustained exposure (more than eight hours) above 85 decibels, or roughly the sound of a lawnmower—or the noise level inside your helmet while riding down the road at 65 mph.[1]

hearing protection for riders

 

There is a lot of  discussion about wearing ear plugs while riding a motorcycles; several opinions surface around whether or not doing it is a good idea. Amongst riders,  like so many other elements of this sport, the use of ear plugs while riding tends to be a controversial topic; many riders swear by using ear plugs, but many others refuse to do it, wanting to be as connected their bike and traffic conditions as possible to enhance their safety. The truth is, however, that most riders on both sides of the debate are under-informed about what the real threats to your hearing are while riding, and how hearing protection actually works.

We found some myths that have been documented for riders to think about when making their decision whether or not to use hearing protection. It is important that riders understand that the so called ambient wind noise is the silent killer and what you can do about it before it hurts your hearing.

Common Myths about Hearing Protection while riding a motorcycle [2]

Myth #1: You can’t hear traffic hazards, sirens, your bike, or other important sounds while wearing hearing protection. 

Wearing ear plugs does block sound, but the way it actually affects your hearing is counter-intuitive.

The real killer of hearing, and what we are trying to prevent while riding, is wind noise; the continuous, high-frequency sound created as you rush through the air at riding speeds. What we want to hear are low-frequency sounds, things like cars around us, engine RPM, and approaching sirens.

Because wind noise beats on your ears non-stop while you ride, it creates a condition called temporary threshold shift (also referred to as TTS), which is a temporary hearing loss that results from continuous over-exposure to sound (we’ve all experienced this at a concert, races, when operating machinery, etc.) In other words, you go partially deaf for a while after an extended period of riding.

That temporary deafness is even more dangerous to your safety on the road than wearing ear plugs, because it affects all frequencies of hearing. Proper hearing protection prevents that from happening, and cuts high-frequency wind noise while still allowing important low-frequency sounds to be heard.

Ask about our dB Blockers made especially made for riding.

Myth #2: You only need to wear hearing protection if you have a loud bike.

Naturally, loud bikes are more likely to create hearing damage than quiet bikes, when revving or accelerating for example. But once again, the biggest danger to your hearing while riding is wind noise, and it piles up a lot faster than you think. Whether you ride a thunderous V-twin or a stock 250, the sound of your bike is minuscule when compared to the volume of wind noise, which is usually around the 100-110dB range at highway speeds. It is a constant, high-frequency sound; the type that is the biggest threat to your hearing, as you tend to not notice it slowly beating your eardrums to death.

Myth #3: You don’t need to wear hearing protection if you wear a full-face helmet.

True, wearing a full-face helmet does cut exposure to sound, but to degree that is not significant with respect to hearing damage. Check out these numbers: different studies show a reduction in the range of 5-10dB when wearing a full-face helmet; but at 100dB-plus levels found at normal highway speeds, this is still well within the territory of permanent hearing damage. Some helmets flow air so well, the wind noise can actually be almost equal to that of not using a helmet at all!

Protect Ear USA provides personalized industrial earplugs that matters to both, the individual as well as the organization, because of the benefits that proper hearing protection can offer. dB Blockers custom molded earplugs are commonly used in the following industries and environments, learn more about two way hearing protection. 

Myth #4: A windshield/fairings will cut wind noise enough.

Much like the difference between full-face and half-helmets, there is a reduction in sound level, but not to a significant degree. Depending on the style of windshield or fairings, and the height of the rider and his body position, the resulting turbulence may mean there is hardly any reduction in noise at all. Rehearing protection for ridersducing ambient noise is a concern for some riders. If you plug your ears, how will you hear your bike’s engine or, more importantly, monitor traffic around you? Learn more about hearing protection you can actually hear    through… dB Blockers. 

dB Com™ X-Treme Headset (Intrinsically Safe)dB Blocker Grip Non vented

Wind noise while motorcycle riding regularly exceeds the levels at which hearing damage will occur. Protect your hearing without blocking the sounds you want to hear with Custom hearing protection, All Sport dB Blockers. 

All Sport

 

SOURCES


[1] It’s time to make some noise about hearing protection. By ARI HENNING NOVEMBER 1, 2016

[2]Common Myths about Hearing Protection: www.bikebandit.com/blog/post/motorcycle-ear-plugs