Why Must Hearing Protective Devices (HPDs) Be Tested?

April 18, 2016

Why Must Hearing Protective Devices (HPDs) Be Tested? Is It Just for Labelling Purposes?

The Good, The Bad and The Unknown About Testing HPDs (Hearing Protective Devices)

Here’s your problem: You have a noisy workplace or workplace activity and you have a person who works in that noisy workplace or conducts the noisy workplace activity. You want to protect the person’s noise-exposure level so you turn to the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) value from a Hearing Protective Device label to guide you in your choice of product. You do your calculations and trust the testing procedures to again guide you to make the best choice of HPD.

What should the concerned industrial hygienist, audiologist, or consumer do to protect the person’s noise-exposure level?

Let these 5 rules guide you:hearing protection devices

Rule 1. Be informed. The primary problem with HPDs is that they vary widely in effectiveness from individual to individual. Recognize that whatever rating value is on the label, it is a lower boundary, not a benchmark.

Rule 2. Recognize that HPDs, the head, and the ear are complex systems. The acoustics of HPDs aren’t accurately described by the principles of acoustics that were derived for large-scale systems such as walls, doors, windows, churches, and concert halls. HPDs and the head and ear to which they couple are a complex system. Change one element, or one part of one element of that system, and the entire system changes affecting the effectiveness of the HPD.

Rule 3. Employ fit testing if possible. The so-called gold standard for determining the effectiveness of an HPD is Real-Ear Attenuation at Threshold (REAT). The any type of fit-testing procedure is referred to as FAES – Field Attenuation Estimation System. The purpose of FAES is to insure that whatever HPD is used is effective for the individual’s noise exposure level. 

Rule 4. Select the HPD with the lowest possible NRR or, if available, the best SNR(SF84) for the noise exposure levels of concern.  The trend for the past 50 years has been to select the HPD with the highest NRR. This has resulted in many HPDs on the market that at face value are horribly overprotective.

Rule 5. Check the testing laboratory and the date of the testing. In general, try to ascertain if the testing laboratory is independent from the manufacturer. . Also, confirm that the laboratory regularly tests HPDs. For some products the data may be more than 30 years old from a laboratory that tested only one product. Also beware of excessively small standard deviations on the label; values less than 3 dB are suspicious.

Download a Research Study conducted by John Franks Ph.D

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What is the new CSA Z1007 Hearing Loss Prevention Program Management (HLPP) and what does it address?

April 15, 2016

CSA Z1007 Hearing Loss Prevention Program Management (HLPP)

In Canada the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) develops and maintains standards and codes that
impact the safety, environment, global economy and foster wider acceptance and adoption of new or innovative technologies. Volunteer experts from industry, governments, academia, regulators and consumers contribute to make standards work for people and business.

With workers in many occupational sectors being exposed to high levels of occupational noise it was critically important to identify these hazardous situations and implement preventative measures to help protect the hearing of workers.

CSA Z1007 – Hearing loss prevention program (HLPP) management is the first in a series of standards on occupational noise control to help address these potential concerns to worker health and safety. It covers all aspects of the creation and management of hearing loss prevention programs.

The standard helps guide businesses in establishing a management process for an effective hearing loss prevention program

SA Z1007 Hearing Loss Prevention Program Management (HLPP)

“The idea is to make them knowledgeable managers of hearing loss prevention programs,” explained Jeffrey Goldberg – Custom Protect Ear / chair of the technical committee, on May 1 at Partners in Prevention, an occupational health and safety conference.



“The standard tells the non-professional they need to do a noise survey,” he noted. “It doesn’t necessarily tell them how to do it; it tells them how to know they’re getting an effective one from a service provider that is going to do it for them.”

Some of the concerns addressed were the fact that there were different criteria for Action Levels, Protection Levels and Exchange Rates. The difference between Canada & the U.S.A. show in the chart below:

USA Canada
Federally Regulated and Inspected Provincially Regulated and Inspected
Regulations are Uniform Across the Country Different Criteria in 14 Jurisdictions Across the Country
Action Level – 85 dBA Action Level(s) – 80 (4), 82 (2), 84 (1), 85 (1), Not Specified (6)
Protection Level – 90 dBA Protection Level – 85 (11), 87, 90 dBA
Exchange Rate – 5 dB Exchange Rate – 3 dB (11), 5 dB (3)

To reduce the incidence of NIHL Z1007 needed to target both the knowledgeable and uninformed Manager and in order to be effective needed to be referenced in regulation by the Jurisdictions in Canada. Long-term exposure to noise can result in both hearing loss and stress-related illness. In addition, noise can interfere with critical communications and warning signals.

The Scope of the Standard outlines the Elements of an HLPP from Education and Training to Record Keeping. Elements include:

  • Detecting the Noise Hazard
  • Controlling Noise Exposure
  • Hearing Protective Devices
  • Audiometry
  • Hazard Communication and
  • Monitoring Program Performance

Some things left unresolved and next steps are to start the revisions for the next version and to address:

  1. Is Hearing Acuity a Fit for Duty criteria?
    • If it is, how do you deal with hearing impairment created by the work environment
    • If it isn’t, how do you keep people safe?
  2. What is the Protocol for Persons with Hearing Aids
    • There isn’t a single protocol that can address this issue
  3. Transient, Temporary, and Short Term Workers need to be covered – How do we do that?
    • Is this the employer’s responsibility?
    • Is this the regulators responsibility?

“Calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience. Noise must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere.”…. Former U.S. Surgeon General William Stuart


LIVE PRESENTATION: The Role of Standards in Making Occupational Hearing Loss Prevention Programs Effective

April 9, 2016

The Role of Standards in Making Occupational Hearing Loss Prevention Programs Effective

The new CSA Z1007 Hearing Loss Prevention Program (HLPP) Management and Changes to CSA Z94.2 Hearing Protection Devices

The Role of Standards in Making Occupational Hearing Loss Prevention Programs Effective


Workers in many occupational sectors – including manufacturing, mining, construction, transportation, and emergency services – often perform their jobs while exposed to high levels of occupational noise.

Long-term exposure to noise can result in both hearing loss and stress-related illness. Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) can be addressed with the implementation of a Hearing Loss Prevention Program (HLPP).

CSA Group has developed several standards that can help. This presentation will introduce the NEW Z1007 Hearing Loss Prevention Program Management – the first standard of its kind – which covers all aspects of creating and managing an organization’s HLPP, as well as review the important changes to the latest edition of Z94.2 Hearing Protection Devices. Your presenter, Jeffrey Goldberg is Chairman (formerly CEO) of Custom Protect Ear Inc. and the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the National Hearing Conservation Association, in addition to serving as Chair of the Technical Subcommittee that wrote Z1007. Jeffrey will explain the content in Z1007, the changes to CSA Z94.2, and the cross-content between the two.


Lakeside Industries wins National Award for Safety Innovation with the help of dB Blockers™

Lakeside Industries wins National Award for Safety Innovation with the help of dB Blockers™

dB Blocker ProtectEar USA, is excited to formally congratulate Lakeside industries Inc. for being awarded a National Award for Safety Innovation for their successful implementation of hearing safety initiatives in the workplace. The hearing technology that contributed to Lakesides hearing safety initiatives is Custom Protect Ears’ flagship product, dB Blockers™.

ProtectEar USA are the Exclusive Licensed Distributors of dB Blockers™ in the USA.  dB Blockers™ are known for their “Smart Hearing” technology especially where interpersonal communication is required. Lakeside employs a dedicated, quality control staff that is supported by more than a dozen in-house testing laboratories.

Cal Beyer, Director of Risk Management for Lakeside Industries Inc., states

We describe safety as a core value, rather than say ‘safety is our top priority”.

Read full AnnouncementdB Blockers

Sounds you can’t hear can still hurt your ears

March 10, 2016

All the shopping and socializing at this time of year can be enough to give you a headache, but could it actually be damaging your hearing?

On top of all the voices in busy stores and restaurants, many businesses pump up the music volume. So, when Global News received an email from a viewer concerned about noise levels, we decided to do an (admittedly unscientific) investigation.

Using a sound level meter and a smartphone app, we measured the decibel levels in various areas of an Edmonton mall with our viewer, Penny Jones

Read Full Article. 

Sounds you can’t hear can still hurt your ears

What is it about Edmonton that makes them conscious of damaging our hearing. Several years ago, research done in Edmonton showed the noise levels at playoff hockey games exceeded what would be considered toxic in workplace.  Same thing happens with football games in Seattle.  Now, once again Edmonton has shone a light on this persistent problem.

too loud

Let me pose a question. What would be the response to 20% of the people of Edmonton, Chicago,  Paris, or London were all suffering from the same ailment; the same disease. I think the response would be significant.  

Over 20% of those working in noise suffer from some noise induced hearing loss (NHIL); an industrial disease. Contrary to popular belief, NIHL is not just the result of an  exposure to loud noise. It caused by the ears being tired from constant exposure to more sound than they can process in a 24 hour day.  Articles like this one, that alert the public to be aware of noise from all types of sources.  It increases our sensitivity to this problem. Imagine working all day in a loud workplace with proper hearing protection. Now add to that the noise from the mall or the game.  Your poor tired ears!

(The article talks about a smart phone sound measurement app. Very few of these apps are accurate enough to be used for more the curious interest). 

So please be aware of how often you are exposed to noise. Whenever you can, limit the level of exposure AND the time. When you get a break at work, move to quiet.  Let your ears “catch their breath”.  As my Jewish Grandma would say, “it couldn’t hurt”.   

Jeffrey Goldberg.


Custom Protect Ear in the News…

February 23, 2016

Hearing Loss Prevention Trifecta

Custom Protect Ear is proud to be featured in industry related articles applicable to hearing loss and hearing protection. Editors have been focusing on the Hearing Loss Prevention Trifecta: Fit, Comfort, and Communication. 

Summary of Articles:

Hearing protectors help combat hearing loss, improve compliance

Effective hearing protection should be comfortable, effective, and yet still enable people to talk to one another. Custom Protect Ear’s hearing protection devices are made of a medical-grade silicone, and they are designed to be soft and flexible. The advantage of the softer devices is better comfort and function. They change shape slightly as the wearer ’s ear canal changes shape when talking or chewing, thereby continuing to seal during those activities….

Custom Protect Ear has been featured in the following publications, click on logo to read full article:

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 3.17.54 PM





Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 3.18.06 PM

Trail Body Builders



Oil and gas workers suffering hearing loss at double the rate of other noisy industries

February 4, 2016

Oil and Gas workers suffering from hearing loss

It is no secret what is happening in the oil and gas sector with all the cut backs and downsizing. The oil and gas sector has seen 100,000 job at the end of 2015, including 40,000 direct jobs, as a combination of policy uncertainties and low crude oil prices decimates the sector.

But that is not all we are seeing or hearing from the Oil and Gas sector……

According to Worksafe BC Oil and gas workers suffering hearing loss at double the rate of other noisy industries. Over one third show signs of hearing loss according to WorkSafeBC. 

Oil & gas

Drilling and pipeline work is noisy business and according to a new report it’s taking an alarming toll on the hearing of workers in B.C.’s gas and oil industry.

In a bulletin WorkSafeBC says those oil and gas patch workers are experiencing noise-induced hearing loss at a rate of 33 per cent, over twice the rate of workers in other noisy jobs.

“It raises a few alarm bells,” said Budd Phillips, regional prevention manager with WorkSafeBC in Fort St. John. “Approximately one-third of workers were starting to show signs of noise induced hearing loss.”

WorkSafe doesn’t know if ear protection is absent, improperly used, or just inadequate for all the noise. But Phillips says companies need to do a better job making sure their employees are protected. Workers often don’t use the ear protection they are given, said Art Jarvis of Energy Services B.C. — which speaks for 1,600 companies working in B.C.’s gas patch.

“Definitely if you’re working beside a frac crew with screaming engines, that’s a noisy location,” said Jarvis.

The report is based on tests conducted in 2014 and notes that young workers are most likely to forego hearing protection devices entirely, with 27 per cent of those under-21 reporting they didn’t use hearing protection. WorkSafeBC regulations requires that employers provide workers with CSA rated hearing protection and test them annually when workplace noise exceeds a certain exposure limit. Only 15 per cent of oil and gas workers were tested in 2014.


In times of changing economy and declining high prices sector, it is very important that companies and workers take the extra precautions to ensure they are compliant with safety standards. Today workers are forced to consider job diversification, so in doing so it is important to make sure your senses are in tact. 

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
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

Post in Trailer Body Builders

January 8, 2016

Hearing protectors help combat hearing loss, improve compliance

Effective hearing protection should be comfortable, effective, and yet still enable people to talk to one another.

Custom Protect Ear’s hearing protection devices are made of a medical-grade silicone, and Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 8.28.54 AMthey are designed to be soft and flexible. The advantage of the softer devices is better comfort and function. They change shape slightly as the wearer ’s ear canal changes shape when talking or chew ing, thereby continuing to seal during those activities.

Greater comfort addresses a significant problem facing health and safety managers who oversee hearing loss prevention programs: getting people to wear hearing protection products and policing their use.

Including a filter and vent in custom ear protectors like Custom Protect Ear ’s can make speech more understandable by reducing attenuation at higher speech frequencies. This allows them to be left in while talking, and isn’t possible with typical solid foam earplugs.

CLICK HERE to Read Full Article


Howard Raphael appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Custom Protect Ear, Inc.

December 15, 2015

December 15, 2015

Surrey, British Columbia, Canada (December 09, 2015) – Jeffrey Goldberg, Chairman of Custom Protect Ear (CPE), North America’s largest personalized, industrial hearing protector manufacturer, is pleased to announce that effective immediately Howard Raphael has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Custom Protect Ear, Inc..

Based in Surrey, Raphael is responsible for all aspects of operations for Custom Protect Ear, which serves over 4,500 companies and businesses around the globe. Mr. Goldberg was quoted saying “Raphael brings the Leadership skills required to guide CPE, streamline and grow its operations, and ensure that it remains a leader in hearing protection technology and systems”.

“CPE is a small company with soul that truly values it customers and partners. What sets us apart from the competition is our product, our service and our people. We are dedicated hearing conservation specialists and we continually strive to be the leader in our industry,” says Howard Raphael.

A creative and visionary leader, Raphael has been a key factor in Custom Protect Ear’s success, having held the position of General Manager with the company for 10 years prior to his current role. Raphael’s business and entrepreneurial acumen is well honed, having owned and operated 12 different companies before joining the CPE team.

About Custom Protect Ear:

Over three decades, Custom Protect Ear (CPE) has grown to be North America’s largest personalized industrial hearing protector manufacturer. CPE is the leader in providing effective, verifiable, and noise level matched hearing protection at a cost lower than alternative options. CPE devotes all of its research and expertise to the innovation of better hearing protection and has made significant technological advances. CPE serves over 4,500 companies and businesses around the globe; its certified mobile technicians do custom on-site fittings at their industrial sites. Custom Protect Ear has a registered ISO 9001: 2008 quality management system in place, which ensures CPE delivers the finest and most effective hearing protection available on the market.

For further information, please contact:

Laura Bennett
Manager, Business Development
Phone: 604-635-3250 | 1800-520-0220 ext. 322
Email: lbennett@protectear.com