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 Protection for the Oil Industry

December 12, 2012

Hearing conservation standards in Oil Industry

The economics of the oil patch have seldom been better. But even with an abundance of jobs, there’s still a shortage of workers. In this economic environment, you have bigger things to worry about than your employees’ hearing.

But with Custom Protect Ear (CPE), your operations can gain productivity and look after your workers’ best interests at the same time. Specializing in personalized hearing protection, we’ve helped many companies, including Albion Sands and Imperial Esso, oil sand protection overcome performance limitations and maintain the highest hearing conservation standards.

From the very start, CPE assesses the noise levels and working conditions each person faces. Then we determine the best protectors for the individual and make the appropriate recommendations for optimal productivity, protection, and comfort.

Prevent Hearing Damage with The Grip

Usually, workers in grimy environments lean toward disposable earplugs even though they’re an inadequate form of protection. But disposable earplugs become filthy because of dirty hands. The fact that CPE’s dB Blockers are not disposable is a huge benefit. Your workers won’t have to remove or adjust their protectors during the day and grit grime doesn’t get in their ears. Plus Custom Protect Ear offers Intrinsically Safe Smart Muffs.intrinsically safe smart muffs

They can use The Grip to remove their protects without ever touching the earpiece. dB Blockers can be inserted with clean hands at the start of the day for the whole day. As well, they’re washable, they cost less to use and they’ve a solid defence against hearing damage.

In large facilities like petrochemical plants that have a low concentration of workers, radio communication keeps workers in touch with plant supervisors. When integrating dB Blockers with I/S radios, CPE combines dB Blockers and intrinsically safe communication connections. This facilitates and enhances radio communication, thereby, avoiding misunderstandings and reducing the need to repeat conversation. People can also talk to each other or hear radio calls without removing their protectors, while staying protected at all times.

Upholding Conservation Standards at the Oil Patch

dB Blockers also feature a coloured exterior, so supervisors can immediately see if workers are wearing them. For enormous oil sands plants with thousands of employees, upholding hearing conservation standards becomes much easier.

With your workers’ hearing properly protected by dB Blockers, you can rise above all these challenges, enabling you to establish better employee relations to attract more workers and gain further productivity.

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. 


Hearing Loss and Shooting Sports

July 26, 2012

Hearing Loss and Shooting Sports

Facts about shooting sports

  • – Over 43 million people in the U.S. have hunted at least one time in their lifetime
  • – An estimated 20 million people in the U.S. are active hunters
  • – An estimated 21 million people are target shooters
  • – Hunters spend more than $2.7 billion on hunting equipment each year
  • – Although hearing protection is often recommended, there are still shooters that do not use it.
  • – Many may have a hearing loss already.
  • – For those with a sensorineural hearing loss, and for those new to the shooting sports without a hearing loss, it is important to protect all residual hearing.

Sound basics

To understand some of the problems associated with shooting sports, it is necessary to be familiar with some definitions. The loudness of sound is referred to as intensity. The frequency (or pitch) of sound refers to how rapidly the sound vibrates. Intensity is more accurately measured as sound pressure level (SPL), and expressed in decibels. A 10 dB increase in sound pressure level will result in doubling of the loudness level!! For example, a firearm producing a sound pressure level of 150 dBSPL is twice as loud as a rifle producing 140 dBSPL of intensity. It should be noted that the shorter the barrel, the louder the sound. Also it is apparent that often the larger caliber does not necessarily correlate with the loudness of the firearm. Muzzle brakes or recoil suppressors can also significantly increase the sound intensity.

Sound intensity of various firearms

There are other factors, which result in greater noise injury. They include lack of or inadequate ear protection, and repetitive Shooting & Firearms shooting or increased exposure of shooting time. Most people who perform shooting sports will have one ear, which has a greater hearing impairment than the other side. This is due to one ear being closer to the end of the gun barrel of a rifle or a shotgun. However, if one does pistol shooting, the hearing loss may be the same in both ears. Shorter barrel lengths will also result in a greater noise injury. The use of alcohol while shooting may result in additional noise trauma. In the middle ear, a small muscle is present that is attached to one of the bones (e.g. stapes), which moves the fluid in the inner ear. Alcohol suppresses the protective muscle reflex, which normally prevents this bone from vibrating too forcibly into the inner ear. Many people who have had exposure to shooting sports felt that being in the open field was less likely to cause noise trauma than being in an enclosed space. Also many have thought shooting only once or twice a year was not likely to cause a hearing loss. However this is quite the opposite. In reviewing cases of acute acoustical trauma from gunfire, over 40% had noticeable acoustical trauma caused by a single shot. Ninety-two percent of trauma from gunfire, over 40% had noticeable acoustical trauma caused by a single shot. Ninety-two percent of all of these traumatic incidents occurred within 6 feet of the firearm. Most (83%) wore no ear protection when the traumatic episode occurred.

 Temporary hearing loss

Often when exposed to impact sounds, such as a firearm, or to loud speakers in a music concert, a patient will have symptoms of fullness in the ears with decreased hearing. It often feels as though the ears are “stopped up”. This is due to a temporary threshold shift. The temporary threshold shift will return to normal within a few days. Temporary threshold shifts can be indicators of noise exposures that lead to permanent hearing loss. The cause of this temporary hearing loss is due partly to structural changes of the hair cells (e.g. buckling of the supporting cells and uncoupling of the sterocilia from the tectorial membrane). There are also other structural changes that can effect the metabolic activity of the cells within the cochlea.

Symptoms of noise traumaHearing Loss

  • – Tinnitus (ringing in the ear),
  • – Fullness or pressure in the ear
  • – Hearing loss
  • – Occasionally a feeling of dizziness
  • – Difficulty hearing high pitch sounds (birds, children’s & women’s voices)
  • – Difficulty understanding speech in background noise
  • – Comfort range of sounds, soft sounds increasing to loud sounds, becomes reduced or limited (decreased dynamic range of hearing)
  • – What are the permanent changes to the ear itself?
  • – Loss of inner and outer hair cells within the inner ear.
  • – Injury to the intricate nature of the inner ear such as swelling and increased lysosomes in all cellular organelles. (The lysosomes are the cells’ garbage disposal system and degrade worn out organelles such as mitochondria). Reduction in the number of inner ear capillaries have also been seen.
  • – Degeneration of the ganglion cells (cells that send sound signals to the brain) in the inner ear (cochlea).
  • – Eardrum (tympanic membrane) perforation can occur with explosive injuries. 95% of these traumatic perforations heal spontaneously.

What does that mean for communication ability

Generally, a noise induced hearing loss is associated with a high-frequency hearing impairment. Classically it occurs at 4KHz. With time, not only can the high frequencies be affected, but the middle and low frequencies may be involved as well. In speech, high frequency sounds are “th”, “sh”, “s”, “t”, “p”, “k”, etc. You may hear the word “kind” as “time”. Therefore, as the hearing loss continues to diminish, speech intelligibility also decreases. A comprehensive hearing evaluation will map out hearing ability on an audiogram. Additionally, sophisticated testing such as otoacoustic emissions (link) have demonstrated a decrease in hair cells function with exposure to noise over time.

Hearing protection

Using hearing protection in the form of earmuffs and/or earplugs is crucial for hearing preservation. The factors that affect ear protection include the shape or style of the earmuff, the noise reduction rating of the ear protection used, the type of earplugs, and thermal effects when using foam inserts. 


Earmuffs fit around the head and over the ear to provide a tight acoustic seal. The shape and size of the earmuff may often affect the Ear muffeffectiveness of the sound reduction. Often large rectangular muffs may interfere with the stock section as it is firmly placed near the shooters cheek. The stock of the firearm can lift the earmuff slightly from the cheek surface, exposing the ear canal to sound, thereby lessening the sound protection ability. Some earmuffs are designed to eliminate the point of contact of the muff with the cheek plate on the stock. Rounded muffs and tapered muffs allow the stock to fit firmly against the cheek and yet not come into contact with the earmuff. There are also muffs that will fit around the neck and allow people to use a wide brimmed hat.


Earplugs are placed into the ear canal to form a seal and block sound. There are different types of earplugs including custom made products, foam or silastic ear plugs. Frequently, those that are custom made may have to be remade after 2 years, as the material shrinks and/or deteriorates. The ear canal over time may change in size, therefore resulting in a poor fit and less protection. Foam inserts can be excellent and are often quite comfortable and cheaper than earmuffs or custom made ear inserts. Foam earplugs are lighter and more easily packed in such activities as mountain hunting, and when shooters are wearing wide brimmed hats. There are some thermal effects using earplugs, which can be a disadvantage. Specifically in cold weather, the foam does not seem to be as occlusive as it is in warmer weather and therefore greater noise reduction can be achieved with a muff in very cold weather when compared to the foam ear insert. Lastly, there are silastic earplugs, which have flanges on them and are in different sizes.

Electronic earplugs or earmuffs

Options for hearing protection also include electronic earplugs or electronic earmuffs. These specifically are designed to allow the person shooting to hear environmental sounds or communicate more easily with family or friends while wearing ear protection. When a firearm is discharged, a special filter closes, within the device, to eliminate noise over 85 decibels, thus protecting the hearing. However these devices are generally not as effective in noise reduction. As the sound (traveling about 761 mph, or 1100 feet/second) hits the electronic device, there is a 0.5 to 1 millisecond period of time before the internal circuitry can be completely activated to suppress the sound. According to OSHA guidelines, these very minute bursts are not prolonged enough to cause significant damage. It is the opinion of Dr. Krueger that they have a place when there is a need to instruct or communicate with others while hunting, or when there is a need to listen to surrounding environmental sounds. They are not recommended for use at a shooting range.

Prevention of hearing loss

It is recommended that you always use ear protection with appropriate noise reduction rating (NRR) of at least 29 dB. The evidence is clear that double protection (i.e. earmuff and insert earplug) is better; therefore double protection should be used if possible. For those individuals who are doing dangerous game hunting, it is suggested that an electronic device be used to protect the hearing and for listening in hazardous surroundings. For others who want the best of both worlds, use an insert in the ear canal and wear an electronic earmuff over For others who want the best of both worlds, use an insert in the ear canal and wear an electronic earmuff over the ear. Therefore when impact sound is heard, such as a gunshot, the minute sound that is not suppressed by the electronic device will be suppressed by the insert in the canal.

Strategies for those with hearing loss 
Ear plugs

When a sensorineural hearing loss does exist, there are options. Some include speech strategy techniques and preferential seating. Specifically, those people who have a hearing impairment should sit more closely to the individual speaking to them. Every attempt should be made to control the level of background sound. If dining in a restaurant, they should also position themselves facing their guest and the wall. Try to sit in a high-backed booth away from the kitchen and entrance and in an area of good lighting. Amplification via hearing aids and/or assistive listening devices also provide options for many people with a hearing impairment. With the advancements in hearing aid technology, benefits can be perceived in a variety of listening situations, including background noise.

Other articles available on Hearing Loss in Shooting Sports:

Hearing Loss Causes

Hearing Protection & Shooting

Shooting & Hearing Impaired


CPE: Sensear

July 12, 2012

Custom Protect Ear better serves their customers when it comes to personalized hearing and communication solutions.

Surrey, British Columbia, July 5th, 2012. Custom Protect Ear is proud to announce they will be distributing Sensear products to better serve their customers.  Both companies, Custom Protect Ear (CPE) and Sensear ,  are communication  and hearing protection specialists focused on providing clear communication and hearing protection in noisy environments.  Custom Protect Ear provides personalized hearing protection, dB Blockers™, which will integrate with select Sensear Smart Plug and Muff products. Sensear’s SENS (speech enhancement noise suppression) technology combined with the fit of a dB Blocker will give the wearer a radio communication and hearing protection experience ‘like they’ve never experienced before’.  Combine that with Sensear’s spatial recognition and the wearer is completely in touch with their surroundings. These two experiences combined will help reduce the ongoing ‘cost of noise’ in work environments. Click here to see the Sensear Products on Custom Protect Ears Website.

dB Blockers™ offer “The Smartest Hearing Protection in the World”, especially where interpersonal communication is required. The dB Blocker technology will reduce the cost of noise”; the cost of noise is hearing loss, productivity and risk management. Custom Protect Ear’s flagship product, dB Blockers™, eliminate hearing loss, mitigate risk management, and enhance productivity through effective communication.

“There is an underlying problem with the growing cost of hearing loss prevention in noisy work environments. It was documented that 40% of the companies surveyed reported that they had thought their workers lost up to 30 minutes a day when trying to communicate in noise. Plus, the average cost of hearing conversation programs is $310 per employee per year. With these costs combined with the workers compensation claims doubling in the last 10 years, companies are feeling the squeeze to their bottom line. There is also the issue of ‘human cost of risk management.  It is more important to reduce or eliminate accidents and fatalities in the workplace. If workers cannot hear or communicate, then it’s not clear, and hazards cannot adequately be avoided. It is only a win – win when workers are provided with the right hearing and communication devices that allows them to do their jobs in a noisy workplace.” says Custom Protect Ear’s, Jeffrey Goldberg.

Hearing protection and communication devices need to enable workers to have operational awareness in noisy environments. It is the mission of both Custom Protect Ear and Sensear to provide workers with the same experience in high noise induced areas as they would in low noise areas. Custom Protect Ear’s inventory of Sensear products will allow their customers (Industrial Hygienists, Occupational Therapists and Safety Professionals) to access a total hearing protection and communication solution. The solution, dB Blockers™, will enhance productivity, save money,  eliminate unnecessary costs and associated risks when it comes to providing workers with a safe working environment.


Founded in 2006 in Perth, Australia, and with joint headquarters in Perth and San Francisco, USA, Sensear is a world leader in the development and manufacture of high noise communication headsets. From a global network of sales offices Sensear is selling to end users via distributors,dealers and resellers in the majority of countries around the world. Sensear’s patented combination of hardware and software, isolates, cleans and packages speech while suppressing background noise to a safe level. The award winning technology has been incorporated into both ear plug and ear muff headsets that, whilst retaining situational awareness, enable face to face, mobile/cell phone, short range and two way radio communication in the harshest and noisiest of environments.


Founded in 1976, and with over 1 million wearers, Custom Protect Ear is North America’s largest personalized, industrial hearing protector manufacturer. Hearing conservation is our only business. We do not make hearing aid molds or disposable earplugs. This exclusivity allows us to devote all of our research and expertise to the innovation of better hearing protection. As a result, we have made significant technological  advances in the development of superior hearing protection.


For more information please contact us at:

Laura Bennett | Operations Manager
Email: lbennett@protectear.com
Direct: 1.604.635.3250

Determining Work Related Hearing Loss

July 9, 2012

There are many factors, both at work, at home, and at play that can contribute to noise induced hearing loss. How, then, can a doctor confirm that a person’s hearing loss is work related?

Peter M. Rabinowitz, MD MPH wrote a detailed article in the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation’s CAOCH Update in the fall of 2005 called Determining When Hearing Loss is Work Related that explains how doctors confirm or deny occupational hearing loss. Though the article is seven years old, the information is still valid today and should be interesting, if not required reading, for anyone who works in a noisy work environment and anyone who manages employees who are exposed to loud noises while at work.

Physician Must Determine if Hearing Loss is Work RelatedOnly A Physician Can Determine if Hearing Loss is Work Related

Rabinowitz explains, how only a physician can determine if a case of hearing loss is work related. The doctor will look at many factors before deciding if a person’s loss of hearing is deemed occupational including the patient’s:

• Most recent and previous hearing tests particularly showing audiometric patterns
• Otoscopy (ear exam) to rule out ear wax buildup, ear infections or lesions that could be causing hearing loss
• Overall medical history
• History of occupational noise
• History of non-occupational noise
• Use of hearing protection including type of hearing protection, fit, frequency of use, and Among the negative features of Sagittarian/ capricorn monthly horoscope there are being fragrant, rough, exaggerating, quick-tempered, impulsive, hot-headed, conceited, and aggressive. consistency of use
• Exposure to ototoxic chemicals such as organic chemicals or heavy metals that could damage hearing

It’s clear that more than one factor can contribute to hearing loss, which is often the case. However, if (in the words of OSHA) the doctor determines that “an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition or illness” then the loss of hearing is occupational.

What is the Cost of Occupational Hearing Loss to a Company?

One large U.S. company puts the cost at $19,000/occurrence. Almost $20,000 just to determine if it is work related or not.

Don’t let occupational hearing loss happen in your workplace. Learn more about Custom Protect Ear’s custom fit hearing protection and how it can reduce occupational and non-occupational noise that contributes to hearing loss. В A proactive hearing protection program with Custom Protect Ear can help save your company costly future expenses and help save your employee”s hearing. В It”s a Win Win!


Summer Hearing

July 1, 2012

Protect Your Hearing This Summer

NOISE TO LOUD Summer activities like concerts, swimming and diving–especially in colder waters, fireworks, and outdoor yard work like mowing can cause damage to the ears and your hearing. In order to protect your ears from permanent damage caused by summer activities, it is important to know what activities to avoid, when to wear protective earplugs, and when to see an audiologist.

Summer Sounds

The average summer sounds: boats, firecrackers and lawnmowers produce decibel levels that can increase or cause hearing loss and tinnitus. Inside the ear are small, delicate hairs that help conduct the noise that constitutes your hearing. Injury to these hair cells comes from exposure, sudden or prolonged, to loud noises like lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and fireworks at close range. Protecting hearing during these activities by wearing protective listening devices can help prevent hearing loss now and into the future.noisy fireworks

Exposure to loud noise can also cause temporary or permanent tinnitus. Tinnitus is defined as a nagging buzzing, whistling, whining, or screeching noise in head or ears that varies in intensity and can be intermittent or constant. Some tinnitus sufferers describe the noise as being as piercing and sharp as the signal used in the emergency broadcast system. An audiologist can create custom made ear protection that allows a person to hear while simultaneously protecting the ears.


Protecting your hearing this summer can be as simple as wearing custom earplugs when mowing, attending concerts, working with machinery or engaging in other noisy activities. Earplugs for water sports and activities can keep water from the ears, protecting your ears while helping to prevent your body reacting to cold water conditions through exotosis. An audiologist can provide custom fit protective molds for your ears. Custom fit means more comfort and a greater chance of use like communication, but that’s not the only reason to see an audiologist.

Regular checkups with your audiologist are as important as regular checkups with your eye doctor. Your sense of hearing is a precious gift that needs to be maintained through proper care and prevention. Summer sounds and activities damage hearing, so take precautions and see an audiologist to head off any hearing health problems before they happen.

Read Full Article: Click Here

Hearing Loss in the Workplace

June 30, 2012

“Hearing loss doesn”t win many headlines. Nor does it win much time in the doctor’s office. But maybe it should. And perhaps maybe North American employers should be the first to listen up.” 

Hearing Loss in the WorkplaceHearing loss in the workplace

I was passed this article from the McClatchy Washington Bureau about addressing  “the dollar and sense of addressing hearingloss in the workplace.” It really appealed to me as I work with a company that manufactures the “Smartest Hearing Protection in the world’– Custom Protect Ear (CPE). CPE are known as the hearing conversation specialists that have been exploring ‘the business cost of noise’. Recently I have learned (and much to my surprise) that many companies bottom line is directly attributed to safety & health program initiatives. After looking at the stats I was surprised  to find that $310 per year/per employee are put toward hearing conservation programs and that does NOT include the other costs of noise, which happens to be another $3,750 per employee/per year more. Click here to see the calculation. 

Who Should Care about Hearing Loss in the Workplace

Until recently I have found that the concern of hearing loss has always been taken lightly by many companies. I mean – when it comes to health and safety many companies are concerned the individual and its surroundings; like being safe around heavy operating machinery, wearing proper eye protection around certain machines, wearing hard hats in construction zones etc, but really how often do you hear about protecting your hearing in the noisy environments?    I do see there is a shift happening where companies are seeing the long term effects of being exposed to a noisy workplace. That is why this is great to those dedicated to taking an interest in protecting your hearing. It is often one of the five senses we take advantage of, but really, we should t hink twice about. So as June is National Employee Wellness Month, I encourage all employees, thought leaders, influencers and companies recognize the “benefits that hearing health and proper hearing health care bring to both the employee and to the company’s bottom line. Making hearing health an integral part of North America’s workplace wellness programs simply makes good business sense.”

 See Full Article on Hearing Loss in the Workplace:

Consider this:

  • – The majority of people with hearing loss are still in the workforce. That’s more than 20 million Americans.
  • – Workers with hearing loss are five times more likely to take sick-days due to severe stress than their co-workers without hearing loss. Perhaps this is because most people with hearing loss don’t get tested and treated.
  • – Hearing loss is linked to a three-fold risk of falling among working-aged people (40 to 69) whose hearing loss is just mild. Falls and fall-related injuries cost billions in health care costs in the United States each year.
  • – Unaddressed hearing loss often leads to isolation, anxiety, and depression. For employers, the estimated annual economic burden of depression, sadness, and mental illness is $348.04 per employee. More absences from work are due to depression, sadness, and mental health issues than from any other illness.
  • – Hearing loss is linked to heart disease. Some researchers even hypothesize that hearing loss could be an early warning against heart disease — America’s number one killer — potentially presenting an opportunity for early intervention, better outcomes, and contained health care costs. Heart disease is a huge expense for American businesses, tallying $368.34 per employee per year when averaged across all employees.


Perhaps the most eye-opening statistics for workers themselves to consider are these:hearing at work

  • – People with untreated hearing loss lose up to $30,000 in income annually, depending on their degree of hearing loss. That’s a loss to society of $26 billion in unrealized federal taxes; and an estimated aggregate yearly income loss of $176 billion due to underemployment.
  • – People with hearing loss who do not use hearing aids are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as their peers who use hearing aids.

Moving people to acknowledge and address their own hearing loss has long been an uphill battle, largely due to the fear that people have of growing or appearing old. And because most hearing loss progresses gradually — and is not acutely life-threatening — people tend to put off dealing with it. Too often, people ignore their hearing loss for far too long, allowing it to take its toll on their quality of life, cognitive function, mental and physical well-being, relationships, and their effectiveness and opportunities in the workplace. Unfortunately, fewer than 15 percent of people are screened for hearing loss by their doctors during their annual physical exams.

For both workers and employees, the stakes on hearing health are high. Over the past generation, hearing loss grew at 160 percent of the U.S. population growth. We now live in an age in which MP3 players, ear buds, and loud recreational activities abound. What was once considered age-related hearing loss is being seen more frequently at younger ages. American workers are losing their hearing earlier on in their careers. And America’s baby boomers are aging. What’s more, as global financial conditions remain uncertain, people are staying in the workforce longer, delaying retirement. The financial and human resource risks of leaving hearing loss unaddressed in the workplace have never been so high.

The good news is that the vast majority of people with hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids. Quality of life improves for three out of four who use hearing aids. And for people with milder hearing loss, studies have shown that the use of hearing aids reduces the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent, and from 65 to 77 percent for those whose hearing loss is severe to moderate.

We know from experience that good communication enhances performance, productivity, job satisfaction, and results. Simply put: Unaddressed hearing loss is an unnecessary and not insoluble barrier to good communication.

Employers have a responsibility to create working environments in which individuals with hearing loss are unafraid to acknowledge and address their hearing impairment. By encouraging workers to have their hearing checked as part of the company’s workplace wellness program, those with hearing loss will be far less likely to hide it, and will be far more likely to seek treatment. Together, the employer and employee can identify the most appropriate accommodations to help ensure that a worker’s hearing loss does not interfere with job performance, productivity, safety, quality of life, morale, opportunities, or success in the workplace. Read more here: 


Dr. Sergei Kochkin is Executive Director of the Better Hearing Institute in Washington DC. He can be reach by email at skochkin@betterhearing.org.

McClatchy Newspapers did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy Newspapers or its editors.



Cost of ‘Do It Yourself Travel’.

June 11, 2012

Cost of Noise? Or Cost of Traveltravel expensive

“Normally I don’t use this blog for personal issue BUT recently I had an experience that has caused me to want to cross that line.”  

I was recently at the American Society of Safety Engineers Conference (ASSE) which coincided with the National Hearing Conservation Association annual executive council meeting – a whole lot of hearing conservation in Denver this week (shh).

The conference was well attended and Custom Protect Ear was busy.  In the trade show we were inundated with companies that had challenges in their hearing conservation programs asking if we could help them. If someone asked us what Denver looks like our answer would have to be 16th Street? Why? Because we spent every evening dining and walking on 16th street; a delightful mix of shops, restaurants, with free bus service running the 1/2 mile of the street.

OK enough of the travelogue. What has cause me to personalize this, is my attempt to return home, back to Vancouver BC. Stories about airline travel and what has happened to it are legend. Most of us who fly harken back to the “good old days” when flying was somewhat pleasant.  I’m not sure we recognized that those were the good days back then, but with hindsight, they were certainly better. This march toward airline efficiency has delegated the process of flying to the individual and the public.  We are encouraged to be our own travel agents using Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak, Orbitz, Priceline, Hotwire and others.  The pricing for hotel rooms, airline seats, tours all are subject to extreme variability.  We can buy or own seats directly from the airline, book our hotel rooms directly from the hotel, and even look for our luggage on line.

Before I make my point, a word of qualification. I love computers and computing. I have been computer semi literate since 1984 when I bought my first Texas Instruments P.C. I’ve travelled with a computer since Toshiba launched the 1100 dual disk drive portable.  All of this is by way of saying I’m not afraid of computing.  That said, I think all of us should immediately stop booking our own travel and return to using professionals.  Firstly they need the work.  More importantly, the airlines have made the process of booking travel a minefield of potential hurt.  Let me give you an example of what happened to me just last night.

The Experience

Eager to book in for my flight today, I went online to United Airlines website,as I have done many times before.  I advised United cost of travel that, yes I would be flying from Denver to Vancouver and no, I wouldn’t check any bags. Yes I’d like to see where I’m seated, as I have a preference to carry my luggage on the plane therefore, picking the right seat in advance allows me exit the plane as soon as possible.  I often prefer to sit forward so it’s easy to exit the vessel. On United getting a forward seat is known as “Economy Plus”. United charges an additional fee for a “Plus” seat, which at the time was worth it to me. But that’s where the trouble started. In my ‘seat changing option’, the United online system offered me some alternative flight choices (I was curious and thought, why not ). My meeting was ending at noon so an earlier departure could have been  worthwhile.

Here is the process I went through online:

  • Click.  3 choices, 2 obviously requiring a stop enroute and a 3rd looking like it went straight to Vancouver.  $75 dollar to change but getting home earlier is worth it.
  • Click.  Now to select a seat; this is where the wheels start to come off.  The direct flight to Vancouver is actually 2 segments stopping in San Francisco.  Well maybe that’s not so bad, let’s select a seat.  The same seat wasn’t available on that flight, requiring me to move seats in SFO. All of this led me to regret changing flights. But wait, THERE’S NO UNDO.  You cannot undo the changes you make without calling a person.  OK, I can do that. A call to United Airlines was less than fruitful and here’s how it went


Here is the process I went through on the phone:

  • Me: Hi there can you change my flight back to what I had originally booked with the upgrade, and get a refund on the seat change?
  • United Airlines Operator: Yes we can change you back to your original flight. However we cannot refund the fee for changing flights. And No we cannot apply the original ‘upgrade fee’ for an upgrade on this flight. Sir, you would have to pay for an additional upgrade and then claim a refund from United for the ‘original’ upgrade you had already paid for.


So all in all I had to take the same flight I was booked on originally and I had to pay an additional $114 because I tried to be my own travel agent. So my advice, and as I say in my everyday business, let the people who are trained and specialized in their field to ‘do the work’. Ironically, my trip was about helping professionals fight against the ‘cost of noise’,  and here in this blog I am fighting against the cost of ‘do-it-yourself travel’. The airlines are too clever and luring you into things you’ll pay for and not benefit from.  And don’t even get me started on buying this “meals” on board….