Hearing Loss in the Workplace
“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 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:
- – 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:
- – 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:
ABOUT THE WRITER
Dr. Sergei Kochkin is Executive Director of the Better Hearing Institute in Washington DC. He can be reach by email at firstname.lastname@example.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.
Take the dB Blocker challenge to fight against the Cost of Noise
How would you like to fix a problem you don’t even know you have? One that is sapping your company’s competitiveness?
LIKE THE COST OF NOISE
If your workplace is loud enough to require hearing protection then your business is under attack.
- – Your productivity is being seriously impacted.
- – Your cost of goods are rising from mistakes.
- – You’re spending at least $310/year for every employee in your hearing conservation program.
- – Your Risk Management costs are rising
- – Hearing protection alone is costing you $150/person/year.
- – And on top of it all your supervisors are probably spending an extra 30 minutes a day trying to communicate in noise – @ $30.00/hour that’s almost $4,000/year.
Cost of Noise
All of this is the Cost Of Noise. The cost of noise saps productivity and adds expense to companies. Reduce or control the cost of noise and profits will flow straight to the bottom line. It is a competitive advantage and many companies have recognized it. So if you and your company want to do something about the cost of noise? There’s a cure.
We challenge you to take our dB Blockers to prove we can reduce your cost of noise.
What are dB Blockers
So you’re probably thinking
- – Smart hearing protection that’s also…
- – A communication enhancement device that will…
- – Save the us from making mistakes and…
- – Reduce our cost of noise…
- – Will cost a lot..
Well most of this is right except for the last point. dB Blockers actually cost less to use than cheap throw away disposable earplugs. Don’t believe me? Challenge us to prove it?
Send us an email at email@example.com and challenge us to prove we can reduce your cost of noise.
I dare you.
~ Jeffrey Goldberg, Custom Protect Ear.
National Hearing Conservation Association Recognizes Laurie Wells, Au.D., With Prestigious Michael Beall Threadgill Award
Laurie Wells, Au.D., Manager of Audiology for Associates in Acoustics, Inc., received the Michael Beall Threadgill Award during a ceremony at the annual conference of the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA). This award, established in 1985, recognizes an individual whose committed leadership and insight has furthered the NHCA’s mission of preventing hearing loss from environmental factors in all sectors of society.
Over the past two decades, Dr. Wells has been strong proponent of hearing conservation, both within and beyond the NHCA. Dr. Wells has represented the American Academy of Audiology on the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC) since 2007; currently, she is the Vice-Chair of Education for CAOHC. She has provided occupational audiology services to local employers while employed at the University of Northern Colorado Speech-Pathology and Audiology Clinic. Her efforts are by no means confined to the United States: she has provided hearing conservation education and implementation in Belgium, China, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, India, Spain and the West Indies.
In 1999, Dr. Wells accepted the role of Secretary on the NHCA Executive Council; she remained on the council for the next seven years, serving as Vice-President, President-Elect, President, and finally Past President in 2007. During this time she planned and participated in multiple NHCA Excellence Seminars, acted as Program Chair for two consecutive conferences, contributed to and served as Associate Editor for the NHCA Spectrum, and served on multiple task forces within NHCA.
“Dr. Wells has selflessly donated her time and energy to our organization, and to the cause of hearing loss prevention. She exemplifies the ideals of the NHCA with her dedication,” said Laura Kauth, NHCA President and Chair of the Nominations Task Force.
Dr. Wells was also recognized as the 2011 Outstanding Lecturer for her thought-provoking presentation at the 2011 conference, titled “From Here to There to Hear”.
About the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA)
The mission of the NHCA is to prevent hearing loss due to noise and other environmental factors in all sectors of society. NHCA provides networking, resources and professional development opportunities to improve skills, practices, and services in hearing loss prevention. NHCA’s membership includes audiologists, researchers, industrial hygienists, educators, professional service organizations, safety professionals, medical professionals, engineers, audio professionals, students, and others who have dedicated their work to the advancement of hearing loss prevention. For more information about the National Hearing Conservation Association, visit the NHCA online athttp://www.hearingconservation.org/ or call 1-303-224-9022. Follow the NHCA on Twitter, on Facebook, and on LinkedIn.
The Safe-in-Sound Excellence and Innovation in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards™ Winners!
The Safe-in-Sound Excellence and Innovation in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards™ honor excellent hearing loss prevention (HLP) practices in the work environment. Applicants are evaluated against key performance indicators in a review process designed to evaluate hearing loss prevention programs in each of three work sectors: construction, manufacturing and services. In addition, a fourth award for Innovation in Hearing Loss Prevention recognizes individuals and/or business entities, regardless of sector/ NAICS code affiliation.
This year Custom Protect Ear’s President, Jeffrey Goldberg attended the The Safe-in-Sound Excellence and Innovation in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards™ on February 24, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here are the winners:
The 2012 recipients for Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention in the Manufacturing Sector are:
>>> Colgate-Palmolive Company Worldwide
Colgate – Palmolive Company is recognized for adopting 85/3 company wide, multiple noise controls studies, development of noise control measures, online, on demand noise control training in 6 languages: here are some of the points.
- – 39,000 employees, 16 Billion is sales, 60 plants.
- – Committed to world class health and safety performance
- – Every plant has an E O H S professional on staff.
- – Global standards for OH&S – noise standards are the same wherever there is a plant.
- – Reduce noise at the source, design quiet – equipment at < 82 dBA
- – Operate quiet – preventative maintenance stop noise at the source.
- – Noise reduction taught around the world (D. Driscoll slide)
- – Reduce noise at the source. Require all site to have 2 noise reduction projects per year everywhere.
- – Implemented over 250 noise reduction projects worldwide.
- – Challenged to create a zero hearing protection sites
- – Colgate will promote the winning of the award throughout the company.
>>> 3M Hutchinson in Minnesota
Largest U.S. manufacturing plant for 3M. Recognized for all inclusive and fully integrated approach for hearing health. Fit Testing all plant personnel, Buying Quiet program. 700 in hearing conservation program out of 1,400 employees. Tapes, Filters, Post-it etc. 3 keys – Noise measurement, Noise Reduction, and Hearing conservation excellence. (371 dosimetry samples in the last year). Use the Using Ear-Fit system they tested a sample of 84 people initially: here are some of the points.
- – 55% got a good fit,
- – 24% needed training to get a good fit (+20 dBA,
- – 19% needed Training and a switch of plug and
- – 2% couldn’t be fit with any plug (Used custom of muffs)
- – Using Ear-Fit they were able to get people who had worn plugs for years. They got an Aha’ moment when they finally got a good fit and found out what that felt like, and sounded like.
- – Stock combat arms in their factory store for hunters.
The 2012 recipient for Innovation in Hearing Loss Prevention in the Construction Sector is:
>>>Bechtel National Inc., BSII, Waste Treatment & Immobilization Plant Project (Richland, WA).
The Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) is the world’s largest radioactive waste treatment plant: here are some of the points.
- – BN11 Waste Treatment & Immobilization Plant (WTP)
- – World’s largest radioactive waste treatment plant.
- – 1,100 employees in the hearing conservation program (out of 3,200).
- – Jacob Bailey, Jacob Lukins, Scott Nickerson lead the HCP
- – Much of the program adopted by WTP has been adopted by other Bechtel locations.
- – Program is considered by Bechtel to be low cost.
- – Benefits extend beyond the hearing conservation program and Bechtel considers this cheaper than the fines they might get from DOE.
- – Future projections:
- – Tool noise levels will be part of their purchase decisions in future.
- – Review cost benefit for fit testing and hearing protection devices.
Way to go all this year’s winners of The Safe-in-Sound Excellence and Innovation in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards™ . CLICK HERE TO READ PRESS RELEASE.
NIOSH and NHCA highlight hearing loss prevention
For a second year, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in cooperation with the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA), is excited to announce a dedicated supplemental issue of the International Journal of Audiology. The issue highlights research presented at NHCA’s 36th Annual Conference in February 2011.
The studies highlighted include:
– Lessons learned from the use of new methodologies in studying hearing sensitivity after exposure to drug therapies that may cause hearing damage
– Potential barriers to implementing engineering noise controls in manufacturing NIOSH-supported research on major sources of noise in daily working life
– NIOSH-supported research on how different hearing protection devices perform across a wide range of impulse sounds
– The effectiveness of hearing protection-enhancement devices for gunshots
– The history and impact of the NIOSH and NHCA Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award™
NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard noted that noise-induced hearing loss is a critical issue for all workers, stating, “The ability to hear can greatly impact a workers ability to do their job as well as their quality of life. Understanding the causes and how to effectively prevent noise-induced hearing loss is an important priority for NIOSH as we continue to look at total worker health.”
Additional support from this endeavor was provided by a grant by the Oticon Foundation, and financially underwriting by ASI Health Services; the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC), Etymotic Research Inc., HCI Hearing Conservation, Inc., HTI Inc. Mobile Audiometric Services, MED Compass, Mimosa Acoustics, and MobileEar Inc. Visit informahealthcare.com/toc/ija/51/S1 to view the special supplemental issue.
The 2012 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards™ will be presented at the 37th NHCA Annual Conference in New Orleans on Friday, February 24th, 2012. For information on the conference please go to www.hearingconservation.org . Nominations for the next round of awards will be accepted until September 1st, 2012. For further information please visit www.safeinsound.us.
See the dB Blocker “All Sport” at the Motorcycle show.
Check out the 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 SPORT
• 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
Plus come see out Booth at the Edmonton Motorcycle Show Jan 13th – 15th, 2012. Come see us at the Edmonton Expo Centre – Booth #818.
Check out the Custom Protect Ear booth at this year’s Vancouver Motorcycle show.
Connect PhoneBuddy™ to your dB Blockers.
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 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 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
Phone: 604-599-1311 x321
Toll-free: 1-800-520-0220 x321