Solving the Problem: Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)

June 24, 2013

Can you get the right answer if you ask the wrong question?

Common sense would dictate that asking how to get to the beach would seldom get you directions to the mountains.  Likewise, trying to solve the problem of Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) by fixing how people choose and put in their hearing protection might be only part of the answer.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is still a concern.

Noisy workplaceNoise Induced Hearing Loss affects, by some reports, 1/3 of the persons in North America working in noise. If 1/3 of the people in New York City had the same malady, you can bet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would respond.  Likewise, the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health, the CDC’s workplace health and safety arm, has been on the case of NIHL for decades.  Regrettably, it is still a real problem.

In the last five years, several products have come on the market designed to measure the attenuation hearing protectors give to the people wearing them. These are  portable systems to measure the attenuation real people get in their work settings as opposed to measurements in a laboratory.  The granddaddy of these systems, FitCheck, has been around since 1994 and has been used extensively by companies like Alcoa to measure how effective their workers are at selecting and inserting effective hearing protection.  The problem these systems are trying to resolve is: How do we marry the right hearing protector with an individual and teach him or her to get the attenuation needed for it

Certainly this is a worthwhile goal provided once the protector is fit, it stays in their ears.  Aye, but there’s the rub.  Dr. Peter Rabinovitch has studied Alcoa’s hearing conservation program for many years. Dr. Rabinovitch says that “he can see no outcomes in Alcoa’s hearing conservation program attributable to the use of Fit Checking systems”.  That’s a lot of teaching and testing for no improvement in reducing NIHL.

Dr. Barry Bessler, in a speech to the National Hearing Conservation Association in 2007  tried to explain why rational, intelligent, normal people would turn up their digital music players loud enough to hurt their ears. Dr. Bessler’s answer was reasoned and complex.  One of the points he made is relevant to this conversation. He theorized that our sense of hearing is “hard wired” to our sense of safety.  Impair hearing and we don’t feel safe. In wanting to keep “in touch” with our environment, to feel safe, we need to be able to hear.  Therefore, if we are using hearing protection it must not block our ability to hear.  It must just make it safe to do so.  Given that most types of hearing protection substantially reduce our ability to hear our environment, will workers keep these protectors in their ears?  The evidence seems to indicate that they won’t.

This brings me back to my original point, in developing systems/machines to measure attenuation are we solving the problem of NIHL.  So what  we need to do is not worry about how much noise reduction a properly-worn hearing protector may provide if inserted in total compliance with the manufactuer’s instruction. What we need to worry about  is whether the protector is providing sufficient noise reduction for the noise in which the wearer works. Instead of using these systems/machines to teach, we should be using them to verify.

FOR EXAMPLE
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

If Joe is  is carrying a noise burden of 92 dBA  and he needs only 17 dB of noise reduction to be safe  and can get a consistent 17 dB of noise reduction from an earplug with an NRR of 33 dB, GOOD! Joe doesn’t have to be taught how to get 33 dB of noise reduction. Or, in the case of a custom earplug, one should be made for Joe that givens him 17 dB of noise reduction.

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

I’m afraid I have my doubts that such a direction will be taken.  We need to be talking about making hearing protection as invisible to hearing as safety glasses are to vision. Instead, we have made them as cumbersome as full-face respirators.

In the interest of full disclosure Custom Protect Ear sells and supports the FitCheck and FitCheck Solo attenuation measurement systems. We do so understanding that they can be used as a tool to teach the effectiveness of hearing protection.  

 

ASSE Safety Show If you have something to add to this discussion, and you will be attending ASSE 2013 in Las Vegas this June, please come by and share it with me.
Custom Protect Ear is in booth # 551.

If you won’t be there, drop me a line to hearus@protectear.com

 

Jeffrey Goldberg | President
Custom Protect Ear

Hearing Loss and Workers Compensation

January 14, 2013

Employees who are subject to high levels of noise at work will eventually experience hearing loss if they are not using proper hearing protection.  If that employee applies for workers compensation for hearing loss, the difficulty arises in determining exactly how much of that hearing loss is due to work related noise levels, and what hearing loss is either non-occupational or a natural occurrence due to age.

Testing for Hearing Loss

Determining this level of hearing loss is up to the workers comp claims adjuster. This can be very challenging because they must go back through the employee’s medical history related to their hearing. In some cases, they may have to go back decades to determine the correct percentage of hearing loss caused by exposure to noise at work.High Noise Areas at Work

What the claims adjuster needs are previous records of audiograms performed by an audiologist or otolaryngologist in a soundproof room. These tests measure the employee’s hearing threshold at various frequencies. After finding previous records of hearing tests, the claims adjuster will then take a current reading of the employees hearing levels.

He or she then compares the previous levels to the current levels and adjusts the hearing loss depreciating the value for age and normal hearing loss that can be expected over the course of one’s lifetime.

If the new test shows an increase in hearing loss, the patient must then go through further testing by an otolaryngologist to determine if the hearing loss is due to a defect in the middle ear, an infection or a previous injury rather than to noise levels at work.

If the otolaryngologist determines that the hearing loss is due to one of these factors, the application for workers compensation can be denied, but if the otolaryngologist can determine that the hearing loss is due to noise levels or a combination of hearing problems, then the claim can continue.

Ask for a Baseline Audiogram – Mandatory from OSHA

Due to the complexity of determining these claims, it is imperative that employers offer baseline audiograms (mandatory under OSHA regulations) to new hires and encourage employees to wear hearing protection. The best way for employers to limit workers compensation cases is to protect the hearing of workers from the beginning.

Companies that incorporate hearing protection, like Custom Ear Protect dB Blockers™ into their safety program, will save money by decreasing hearing loss claims and reducing the cost of the claims that do occur. Explore our website to see how you can learn more about the difference in noise frequencies, how to test for noise levels at your workplace and how you can implement a successful hearing protection program.

Hearing Torment Effects Everyone…

December 5, 2012

Loud noises effects everyone from Musicians to Industrial trade workers to an everyday teenager.

As the world gets noisier we need to protect our hearing more than ever.  It may be the last thing we think of – BUT THINK ABOUT IT… what would you do if your ears were always ringing – or  if you could not hear your baby cry – or listen to the sounds of one of your favourite bands like Coldplay.  As a fan of Coldplay I wanted to share this article with everyone who thinks that “Naaa this wont happen to me”… Because YES it can!

Terrible ringing in his ears and excruciating headaches’: Chris Martin’s secret ten-year hearing torment

For the past decade we can reveal the Coldplay star has also been plagued with the excruciating ear condition, tinnitus

Covered up: Chris wears discreet ear moulds on stage

Covered up: Chris wears discreet ear moulds on stage

What Moulded Ear Plugs did for Chris

Coldplay star Chris Martin has performed in front of millions of screaming fans since hitting the big time 12 years ago. But for the past decade we can reveal that the star has also been plagued with the excruciating ear condition, tinnitus. The seven-time Grammy winner was warned by doctors that the debilitating ringing in his ears – coupled with splitting headaches – could end his stellar music career. And the 35-year-old, who is married to actress Gwyneth Paltrow, must wear earplugs to save his hearing. Speaking for the first time about his agonizing ailment, he said: “I’ve had tinnitus for about 10 years, but since I started protecting my ears it hasn’t got any worse – touch wood. “The band use moulded filter plugs, similar to dB Blockers or in-ear monitors. See Coldplay on our “Protecter to the Stars” page. You can use industrial headphones similar to Smart Muffs – but they look strange at a party.”

 

 

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin walking in New York, America

Listen up: Chris and Gwyneth in 2003

 

Hearing Protection: Pay it Forward

Chris believes that listening to blaring music as a teenager was the root cause and he wants others to avoid the same fate. He said: “Looking after your ears is unfortunately something you don’t think about until there’s a problem. I wish I’d thought about it earlier.” The star insists his two children, Apple, seven, and Moses, six, are never exposed to loud music. During 2005’s Live 8 concert at Hyde Park in London, Apple wore giant ear defenders. Last night a friend of the star said: “Chris suffered with terrible ringing in his ears and excruciating headaches. “If he hadn’t sought treatment, he might not be performing today.

“When he does perform, he wears ear monitors to prevent hearing loss.”

 

 

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow and daughter Apple watch Coldplay singer Chris Martin perform on stage at "Live 8 London" in Hyde Park

Muffled: Gwyneth and Apple in 2005

 

Tinnitus – a problem usually affecting the over-55s – can result in permanent deafness if untreated. Chris is now fronting a new charity campaign – Action On Hearing Loss – with sufferers including rapper Plan B and 80s pop legend Gary Numan. Plan B, 28, said: “At first I thought it was trains rushing by as I live near a railway line. It’s caused by years of being subjected to loud music.” Gary Numan, 54, also revealed he was no longer able to mix music after damaging his ears during the peak of his career.
He added: “I didn’t look after my ears and I’m in trouble.”

 

Coldplay scoop the award for Best British Band

Band mates: Chris with the rest of Coldplay

* For more information Read Article Here. 

 

 Action on Hearing Loss: A charity with a great cause.

Action on Hearing Loss is an Organization in the UK that promotes a world where hearing loss doesn’t limit or label people, where tinnitus is silenced – and where people value and look after their hearing.

One of their promotional campaign is: 5 Ways to Protect Your Hearing

Music is the soundtrack to our lives

BUT every time you listen to loud music for too long, you increase the risk of damaging your hearing. If your exposure to loud music is repeated regularly, the damage could be permanent.

Remember – M.U.S.I.C.

M.U.S.I.C. M: MP3 players can be too loud for your ears - turn it down! U: Use chillout zones in clubs and take regular breaks from the loudest areas. S: Stand back from speakers - your ears will thank you! I: Invest in some noise cancelling headphones. C: Carry earplugs with you - they won't block music out, just make it safer.

Learn more about Action on Hearing Loss.  

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.

Sudden Hearing Loss – First National Guidelines Published

April 5, 2012

Sudden Hearing Loss Research

The first national treatment guideline for sudden hearing loss has been developed by a panel of 19 medical experts led by Robert J. Stachler, M.D., an otolaryngologist in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.  Sudden hearing loss is a condition which sends thousands of individuals in the United States to the emergency room each year. The guideline was published this month in the Journal of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 

Dr. Stachler, said:

“In most cases, patients will have multiple visits with several physicians and undergo extensive testing before a diagnosis is made. There’s also been a lack of one or more uniformly accepted treatments, or a consensus on how to counsel patients who do fully recover their hearing. By focusing on opportunities for quality improvement, the guideline should improve diagnosis, reduce unnecessary tests and imaging procedures, and improve hearing for patients affected by sudden hearing loss.”

The team of experts developed the guideline after examining the literature and reaching a consensus for patient diagnosis, management and follow-up care. The panel included Christopher A. Lewandowski, M.D., a physician in emergency medicine, and Henry Ford’s Kathleen L. Yaremchuk, M.D., chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

Sudden Hearing Loss

Sudden hearing loss is a rapid loss of hearing in one or both ears which can happen to an individual all at once or over a period of up to 3 days. Usually, patients report that their ear feels full or blocked. Dr. Stachler notes that as symptoms of sudden hearing loss are so prevalent and non-specific, evaluation and treatment are often delayed in several cases. Sudden hearing loss can be caused by a range of issues, such as infectious diseases, induced hearing loss, head trauma, noise induced hearing loss, Meniere’s disease, and circulatory problems.

The new guideline, which is intended for all clinicians who see patients aged 18+, includes:

  • > Information for patients regarding the benefits and risks of medical intervention
  • > Recommendations to assist clinicians in determining whether a patient with sudden hearing loss is suffering from conductive hearing loss or from sensorineural hearing loss. Although both are common causes of hearing loss, they have extremely different treatment strategies.
  • > Recommendations advising clinicians to not order computerized tomography (CT) of the head/brain as part of the initial patient assessment.
  • > A range of amplification and hearing assistive technology available to those patients with incomplete recovery of hearing.

Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss 

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL), a subset of sudden hearing loss is also covered in the guideline. Each year in the United States approximately 4,000 new cases of SSNHL are reported. Even though the majority of patients recovery completely without the need for medical intervention, roughly 15% of patients with SSNHL experience progressive hearing loss over time.

> The guideline is published as a supplement to Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and is available here.

> To learn more about the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Henry Ford, click here.

How Loud is Too Loud? 
Warning Signs Your Workplace May be Too Noisy

March 28, 2012

Exposure to high levels of noise can cause permanent hearing loss, and each year approximately 30 million people in the United States are exposed to hazardous noise in the workplace.

Noise-related hearing loss has been listed as one of the most prevalent occupational health concerns for more than 25 years. Thousands of workers every year suffer from preventable hearing loss due to high workplace noise levels. In 2009 alone, BLS reported more than 21,000 hearing loss cases. Neither surgery nor a hearing aid can help correct this type of hearing loss. Learn more about Occupational Noise Exposure. 

Short term exposure to loud noise can also cause a temporary change in hearing (your ears may feel stuffed up) or a ringing in your ears online casinos (tinnitus). These short term problems may go away within a few minutes or hours after leaving the noisy area. However, exposure to loud noise can lead to permanent tinnitus and/ or hearing loss. The effects of hearing loss can be profound. Noise Induced hearing loss limits your ability to hear high frequency sounds, understand speech, and seriously impairs your ability to communicate. Learn more about the symptoms of  Noise Induce Hearing Loss (NIHL) 

What are the warning signs that your workplace may be too noisy? Noise may be a problem in your workplace if:

  • You hear ringing or humming in your ears when you leave work
  • You have to shout to be heard by a coworker an arm”s length away
  • You experience temporary hearing loss when leaving work.
noisy workplace

See the dB Blocker “All Sport” at the Motorcycle show.

January 12, 2012

Check out the All Sport™All Sport

All Sport™ Fidelity stereo sound from your digital music player or bike sound system. All Sport™ lets you hear the full range of your recording even at highway speeds. For the rider who wants to listen to their digital music player or radio, All Sport™ is the ideal way to take your tunes on the road. All Sport™ is a headset that connects to your digital music player and is specially designed to work in the harsh environment bikers endure. Wind noise, bike rumble, and traffic sounds compound to make listening to radio or music a challenge while riding. Custom Protect Ear has found a solution.All Sport™ uses dB Blocker® ear pieces giving you extremely comfortable isolation from wind noise, bike growl and the quality music sounds of specially tuned dual stereo transducers. The sound reaches the protector through sound tubes that pass over the ear. This over-the-ear design allows for use with either full face or 1/2 shell helmets. It also allows for your All Sport™ to be easily repaired if you damage them.

RECOMMENDED USES OF THE ALL SPORTAll sport

• Motorcycle
• Snowmobiles
• Gym
• Industrial Workers
• Air Travel

ALL SPORTS FEATURES:

• dB Blocker® custom fitted ear pieces allows listeners to wear All Sport™ in complete comfort.
• The ear pieces are made from soft, flexible, medical grade, SkinSoft™ hypoallergenic silicone.
• All Sport™ can be worn with full face as well as ½ shell helmets.
• The dB Blocker ear pieces create isolation from wind, traffic and bike noise.
• All Sport™ has high quality stereo music transducers.

DOWNLOAD THE PDF: dB Blocker All Sport

Edmonton motorcycle show

 

Plus come see out Booth at the Edmonton Motorcycle Show Jan 13th – 15th, 2012. Come see us at the Edmonton Expo Centre – Booth #818.

 

vancouver motorcycle

 

Check out the Custom Protect Ear booth at this year’s Vancouver Motorcycle show. 
Booth #417.

Connect PhoneBuddy™ to your dB Blockers.

November 18, 2011

Product Release

Surrey British Columbia, November 14th, 2011. Custom Protect Ear launches the The PhoneBuddy™, headphones that are compatible to dB Blockers and work with many Smartphones. The headphones, “The PhoneBuddy™” are available in two versions; the single and the dual.

PhoneBuddy™ I  is a single version headphone for Phone Buddy monaural use (phone calls and to just hear the phone ring in noise). The unit works with virtually any smart phone and has an inline microphone and flash button for answering the call and hanging up. 

“A BIG PLUS is you can connect your PhoneBuddy™ into your dB Blocker Convertible vented protector and hear the phone ring in noise. You still have to move to quieter places to have a conversation but you won’t miss the call, says Custom Protect Ear’s President, Jeffery Goldberg.

PhoneBuddy™ II

PhoneBuddy™ II is the stereo version. With PhoneBuddy™ II you can listen to music and answer your phone calls on most Smartphones. It also has an in-line microphone with a flash switch. When a call comes in, the phone will ring in the earpiece and the user simply switches online pokies to the phone by pressing the flash switch.  When the call concludes, the user presses the flash switch again and the music resumes playing.

What makes PhoneBuddy unique is the sound quality and the ability to use it with more than one Smartphone.  PhoneBuddy™ II also connects to dB Blocker Convertible vented protectors for use in a noisy work environment. PhoneBuddy™ I sells for $69.00 retail with discounts for commercial users. PhoneBuddy™ II sells for $125.00 retail also with discounts for commercial users.

Please contact us for more details.

Custom Protect Ear
681-7789 134th Street
Surrey, BC  V3W 9E9
Canada
Phone: 604-599-1311 x321
Toll-free: 1-800-520-0220 x321
Fax: 604-599-7377
Email: hear@protectear.com