Timber, Noise, and Hearing Loss: A Look into the Forestry and Logging Industry

June 22, 2018

Timber, Noise, and Hearing Loss: A Look into the Forestry and Logging Industry

We use our senses for many things. Take away or weaken one, such as hearing, and many things around us begin to change. Unexpectedly, the conversation across the room becomes more difficult to hear. Our favorite song on the radio doesn’t sound quite the same. This can become very frustrating for the person affected.

Hearing loss is common, especially among workers who are exposed to hazardous noise where they work. What exactly is “hazardous noise”? Noise is considered hazardous when it reaches 85 decibels (dBA) or more. In other words, when a person needs to raise his/her voice to speak with someone at arm’s length or about 3 feet away, a person is likely being exposed to noise that can potentially damage his/her hearing over time. This exposure to hazardous noise and/or chemicals that can damage hearing may lead to hearing loss linked to the workplace, also known as occupational hearing loss.

The risk of developing hearing loss varies by industry. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently looked at one particular industry sector in its paper: Prevalence of hearing loss among noise-exposed workers within the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting sector, 2003-2012. This study looked at the number of workers in this industry sector that had a material hearing impairment, which is hearing loss that interferes with understanding speech. We’ll call it hearing loss in this blog.

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting is among the top industry sectors for worker exposure to hazardous noise that can contribute to hearing loss (37% exposed vs. 25% for all industries combined). Hearing loss within Forestry and Logging, an industry within this sector, is more pervasive. Noise-exposed workers in Forestry and Logging had a higher percentage of hearing loss (21%) than all noise-exposed industries combined (19%). To put this into perspective, a different study found that only 7% of non-noise-exposed workers reported hearing difficulty. Worker tasks in Forestry and Logging include:

  • managing forest nurseries
  • tending to timber tracts (plots of land selected for collecting timber)
  • gathering forest products
  • harvesting standing trees for timber

 

Timber-Logging

Activities associated with these tasks, such as unlatching cables used to hold and move logs (92 dBA) and the use of chainsaws (91-110 dBA), represent some of the highest noise exposures to this industry’s workers, and overall average exposures in some occupations have been shown to range from 97-102 dBA. These noise exposures, among others, contribute to the elevated prevalence of hearing loss seen in this industry.

Within Forestry and Logging, Forest Nurseries and Gathering of Forest Products had the highest prevalence of hearing loss (36%). This represents the highest prevalence within Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting.

Fortunately, there are effective methods for preventing worker hearing loss from noise. Reducing the noise, preferably at the source, is always the first and best step. To further reduce worker exposure to hazardous noise and minimize hearing loss within Forestry and Logging, this industry can:

  • Enclose engines and heavy equipment workstations to contain the noise
  • Install silencers and mufflers on equipment
  • Reduce exposure time for workers operating noisy equipment
  • Perform maintenance of hand tools and vehicle systems
  • Ensure that workers consistently wear properly-fitted hearing protection every time they are in noisy areas or using noisy equipment
  • Make sure that employees receive regular monitoring for changes in their hearing, so that additional measures to limit the progression of any detected hearing loss can be taken

There are also activities within Forestry and Logging that can expose workers to vibration, which may also contribute to the risk of hearing loss through suspected changes to the blood-flow within the inner ear. Vibration exposure can be reduced through routine maintenance of equipment and the use of anti-vibration chainsaws and gloves.

Visit our website for more information on occupational hearing loss surveillance and links to resources to protect worker hearing.

If you work in this industry, please share your experiences with reducing noise and improving worker safety and health.


SOURCE 

Loud noise on the job are at increased risk for hypertension and high cholesterol

May 22, 2018

Cincinnati — Workers exposed to loud noise on the job are at increased risk for hypertension and high cholesterol – key risk factors for heart disease – according to a recent study from NIOSH.

worker-hivis-jackhammer

Using 2014 National Health Interview Survey data of nearly 23,000 workers, researchers estimated the prevalence of occupational noise exposure, hearing difficulty and heart conditions within U.S. industries and occupations. They also looked at the association between workplace noise exposure and heart disease.

The researchers found a link between a history of noise exposure at work and a significantly elevated risk of both high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. Other findings:

  • The industries with the highest prevalence of occupational noise exposure were mining (61 percent), construction (51 percent) and manufacturing (47 percent).
  • Occupations with the highest prevalence of occupational noise exposure were production (55 percent); construction and extraction (54 percent); and installation, maintenance and repair (54 percent).
  • Occupational noise exposure contributed to 58 percent of hearing difficulty cases, 14 percent of hypertension cases and 9 percent of elevated cholesterol cases.

“This study provides further evidence of an association of occupational noise exposure with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and the potential to prevent these conditions if noise is reduced,” Elizabeth Masterson, study lead author and NIOSH epidemiologist, said in a March 21 press release. “It is important that workers be screened regularly for these conditions in the workplace or through a health care provider so interventions can occur. As these conditions are more common among noise-exposed workers, they could especially benefit from these screenings.”

Safety

The study was published online March 14 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

SOURCE:

A Canadian Tragedy: Humboldt, Saskatchewan

April 10, 2018

A Canadian Tragedy

What is a common bus route for many young Saskatchewan athletes turned out to be a tragic accident which affected a nation. As a result, the loss simply terrible, 15 people were killed in the crash.

The 15-people killed in the crash included many young players, their coach, a play-by-play radio announcer, an 18-year-old stats-keeper and a bus driver.

A Message from Custom Protect Ear

The Custom Protect Ear Team would like to offer our deepest condolences to the victims, their families, and the Saskatchewan Community. We extend our deepest sympathies and this message for you during this very sad time:

“In times like this, we remember who we are and how we show up for our families, our friends, and our community. To the Saskatchewan and Humboldt Broncos hockey community: We will stand with you as your neighbor, your friend and as Canadians. We offer you support and courage during this time of mourning.”

 

Deepest Sympathy,

 

Howard Raphael
President
Custom Protect Ear

db cares

 

A Canadian Tragedy: Humboldt, Saskatchewan

 

Happy Holidays from CPE

January 4, 2018

To all our Fellow Customers, Partners, Suppliers and Colleagues, 

A celebration of the holiday season is a gratitude for the gift of life. Here’s wishing you the warmest sentiments and best wishes of this season.

 

Happy-Holidays-[Converte

 

As President of Custom Protect Ear, my only request this year is, for all of us to work towards goodwill to our fellow man and PEACE ON EARTH! I personally wish you and your families a wonderful Holiday Season and a healthy and prosperous 2018.

 

Warm Regards, 

Howard Raphael | President

HOLIDAY HOURS

  • Friday, December 22nd – Tuesday, December 26th – Closed
  • December 27th December 28th &  December 29th – 9am to 4pm (PST) 
  • Monday, January 1st – Closed
  • Tuesday, January 2nd – Normal Hours 

Happy Halloween! Protect Your Ears!

October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween! Protect Your Ears! `

Halloween brings more than just goblins and candy corn, it also brings FIREWORKS… It is very important that parents protect their children’s hearing as well as their own when exposed to LOUD Crackling fireworks.

How Fireworks Affect Hearing

Fireworks produce a sound output that is in the 150 to 175 decibel range. Each year, many people experience some damage to their hearing as a result of fireworks.

There are two things to note when considering whether or not fireworks will have the potential to cause hearing loss. First is the distance a person is from the sound source.  Sound is less likely to affect your hearing the further you are positioned from the firework explosion.

The second thing to consider is how loud the firework actually is. The World Health Organization recommends that adults not be exposed to more than 140 decibels of peak sound pressure. For children, the recommendation is 120 decibels. If you are dealing with a firework that explodes at 170 decibels, you would have to stand 15 to 20 meters away before you are at a safe limit. Children would have to stand 50 to 60 meters away from that same firework. Infants should not be exposed to fireworks because they generally experience the greatest amount of sound pressure.

CPE-Halloween-

Whether you are participating in recreational or professional fireworks, hearing protection is encouraged in both situations.  You could be at risk of having some hearing damage.

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!

CPE Team


SOURCE: https://www.boystownhospital.org/knowledgeCenter/articles/hearing/

Hurricane Harvey

September 7, 2017
Residents of Rockport, Texas survey damage from Hurricane Harvey.

Tens of thousands of traumatized evacuees, many with nothing but the clothes on their backs, face uncertain futures in Harvey’s aftermath. Aid groups are working tirelessly to provide shelter, emergency services, and hope.

Help the Hurricane Harvey Victims

Donate blood: The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center desperately needs more than 2,000 units of blood. The biggest need is for O positive and O negative. A list of locations to donate blood can be found here.
Donate food and clothing: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is asking people to donate clothing, medical supplies, baby items, and food to nearby shelters. Feeding Texas is coordinating with local food banks to distribute food and cleaning supplies. The organization is asking people to drop off non-perishable food, bleach, and paper towels. The Texas Diaper Bank is seeking diaper donations.
You can mail them to:
5415 Bandera Road, Suite 504, San Antonio, Texas 78238 or drop them off at the same address.
Help with clean up: 
Austin Disaster Relief Network is asking for toiletries, inflatable mattresses, undergarments, and cleaning tools. They can be dropped off at the Hope Family Thrift Store in Austin. Volunteers can also sign up for cleaning efforts there. The Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group needs construction cleanup supplies — debris containers, truck cranes, forklifts, ladders, and nail guns.
Donate toys and supplies: 
Mayor Turner said many children inside the shelters need “things to do” and is asking people to donate coloring books, puzzles, and other toys to the shelters.

To all those so adversely affected by the wraths of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, our thoughts and prayers are with you – ProtectEar USA

Happy BC DAY!

August 6, 2017

August 6, 2017

BC Day

 

From all of us at Custom Protect Ear, Have Fun and Be Safe on BC Day
We hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday. And don’t forget – Protect your hearing!

A Proper Executed Safety Program = Money Saved

June 29, 2017

Workplace injuries can cost our society around $128B in losses in a given year. This amount equals to 25¢ of every dollar in pre-taxed corporate profits.

(American Society of Safety Engineers. 2002)

safety plan

Establishing a proper Workplace Safety Program

Establishing a proper Workplace Safety Program will not only provide proper structure for safety but will also create long-term savings in an organization. Having a proper outlined safety guideline can provide essential benefits such as:

  • Reduce injury
  • Increase productivity
  • Create a safe work culture

Reduce Injury

“50 workers are injured every minute of the work week.” 

– American Society of Safety Engineers, 2002

A health and safety manager is responsible for ensuring that safety is an essential component of an organization. (Maine Department of Labor, 2013) Reducing injury in the workplace is imperative, as the people within the company are the vital elements that help steer the organization’s future.

Therefore, it is important to have a safety system with proper precautions. Without a system, avoidable injuries and costs can arise.  Examples of the costs that could be affected are:

  • Increased spending on insurance premiums
  • Increase in hiring costs
  • The added cost of re-training
  • Overtime to compensate for low workforce

The money that is spent on these avoidable costs could be invested into other aspects of the organization:  i.e. – enhancing the development of both the business and the people of the company. An example of where to invest would be: providing cost-effective personal protective equipment to prevent worker injuries. Personal protective equipment could include proper custom ear molding devices to protect hearing-loss, eyewear to prevent eye injury, headwear to protect your head, etc.

A lack of safety can lead to a loss of productivity, efficiency and time, in the long-run.

Increase in Productivity

“Developing a safety culture… increases employee productivity by 24% and reduces factory costs by 20%   

– SafetyLine, 2017 

increase-productivity

 

When an organization tries to find methods to cut costs (including bypassing a properly outlined and managed safety program), the assumption is that this will save money and time; thereby increasing profits. This type of action creates the opposite effect in the long run, as these workplace environments can be deemed unsafe and undesirable to work in. A decrease in productivity may occur as a consequence of injured employees taking time off from work. This can be a detriment to any company and needs to be avoided.

That is just one aspect of a loss in productivity when avoiding an investment in a safety. Other affected benefits may include:

  •  A lack of a high-quality working environment
  • A lack of good communications/relationships between management and employees
  • A lack of demonstrating that the company values their employees

When a working environment is at its peak morale, employees are motivated to work hard and be safe in their roles.  This provides the company with an opportunity to invest into other aspects of their business when people are productive and safe.

Create a Safe Work Culture

“Building a strong health and safety culture will have positive impact on your workers and public perception”

– Worksafe BC, 2017

Company culture creates an “aura” that is interpreted by society. When a company values safety as an organizational standard, potential and current talent sees this as a positive benefit to working for a company. When a company undervalues safety and health, it can create a poor reputation, pushing away workers. Employee morale can be affected, resulting in people leaving the organization. When a company is unable to fill positions, wages that are above market values are typically needed to attract talent. (American Society of Safety Engineers. 2002)

Engaging the workforce in health and safety practices; having a transparent and open health and safety program, and always wanting to improve the health and safety performance inside a company, provides a great return for any organization. Creating a strong health and safety culture demonstrates that employees are highly valued.

“Studies indicate that every $1 invested in a workplace safety program [returns] $3 – $10 in direct and indirect cost savings.”

– American Society of Safety Engineers, 2002

Workplace injuries can be costly

More than $40 billion are paid each year by employers and their insurers in worker’s compensation benefits; or nearly $500 per covered employee. (American Society of Safety Engineers. 2002) There is an initial investment when creating a safety program, but it will pay off in the long run.  A company may experience high monetary losses and workforce labor losses without proper guidelines. Safety is a major factor that should never be overlooked or ignored. Recognizing the value of a comprehensive health and safety program will ultimately save the organization money.

 


Sources

American Society of Safety Engineers. (2002, June 8). White Paper Addressing the Return on Investment for Safety, Health, and Environment (SH&E) Management Programs [Article]. Retrieved June 14, 2017, from http://www.asse.org/professionalaffairs/action/return-on-investment-for-safety/

Institute for Safety and Health Management (2014, September 4). Why Safety and Health Have Good Business Benefits [Blog]. Retrieved from https://ishm.org/safety-health-good-business-benefits/

Maine Department of Labor (2013). Managing Safety and Health [Article]. Retrieved from http://www.safetyworksmaine.gov/safe_workplace/safety_management/

SafetyLine (2017). Is Safety Productive? [Blog]. Retrieved from https://safetylineloneworker.com/blog/is-safety-productive/#more-2740

Worksafe BC (2017). Enhancing Health & Safety Culture & Performance [Article]. Retrieved from https://www.worksafebc.com/en/health-safety/create-manage/enhancing-culture-performance

 

How is sound measured?

June 20, 2017

How is sound measured?

Sound energy travels in waves and is measured in frequency and amplitude.

Amplitude measures how forceful the wave is. It is measured on a Logarithmic scale and reported[1] in decibels or dBA of sound pressure. 0 dBA is the softest level that a person can hear. Normal speaking voices are around 65 dBA. A rock concert can reach about 120 dBA but is often at 100 dB.

Sounds that are 82[2] dBA or above can permanently damage your ears when exposed for a long period of time. The more sound pressure a sound has, the less time it takes to cause damage. For example, a sound at 85 dBA may take as long at 8 hours to cause permanent damage, while a sound at 97 dBA can start damaging hair cells after only 30 minutes of listening.

Frequency is measured in the number of sound vibrations in one second. A healthy ear can hear sounds of very low frequency, 20 Hertz (or 20 cycles per second), to a very high frequency of 20,000 Hertz. The lowest A key on the piano is 27 Hertz. The middle C key on a piano creates a 262 Hertz tone. The highest key on the piano is 4186 Hertz.

Sound Measurement Scenario

Have you even been in a noisy factory and had to cover your ears?

Walked past a jackhammer in the street and winced because the sound was so loud? Being exposed to loud noises for a brief period usually does no harm, but imagine having to suffer it hour upon hour, day after day. Noise that can damage your ears is referred to as “Toxic Noise”. A reliable way to determine if you have Toxic Noise is to stand 1 meter or 1 yard from someone. If they can’t understand you when speaking at a normal conversational level, you have an indicator that you have Toxic Noise. Once you determine you have Toxic Noise, the first thing you need to do is measure how loud it is so you can take effective steps to reduce it.

Making precise measurements of noise used to be quite a tricky business, but now there are automated, electronic sound-level meters that do the job for you.

What makes one sound louder than another?

How loud a sound seems to depend on who’s listening. A young person playing rock up in their bedroom might not think their music is loud, but their parents in the room down below might have other ideas. In other words, how loud things seem is a subjective thing and not something we can easily measure. However, what makes one sound seem louder than another is the amount of energy that the source of the sound is pumping towards the listener in the form of pressure variations in the air. That’s the intensity of the sound.

Meters that measure sound levels work by calculating the pressure of the sound waves traveling through the air from a source of the noise. That’s why you’ll sometimes see them referred to as sound pressure level (SPL) meters. Devices like this give a measurement of sound intensity in units called decibels as we mentioned before. Telephone pioneer Alexander Graham Bell first devised this scale.

Below check out the sound odometer and the intensity of various sounds.

Sound-ODO

If you think you have toxic noise, and you want help measuring it, contact (in the U.S. hearus@protectear.com and in Canada contact hear@protectear.com ).

Sources

http://www.explainthatstuff.com/sound.html


[1] Because the scale is Logarithmic the difference between 10 decibels and 11 decibels is 10x the sound power just like the Richter scale for measuring the intensity of earthquakes.

[2] A European study showed exposures of up to 82 dB resulted in the same hearing loss as the general non-noise-exposed population. At 85 dB the noise-exposed population experiences twice the regular population’s level of hearing loss.

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