Sound Advice

Being Safe on Canada Day & Independence Day

June 18, 2019

The Fourth of July and fireworks are traditional in the US, and go together like hamburgers and hot dogs. Just like the Canada Day celebration on July 1 is also filled with fireworks and festivities. And, as thrilling as it is to watch fireworks, care should be exercised because the sound pressures generated by fireworks can lead to hearing damage if proper precautions are not employed.

firework celebration

Short History

Ancient China introduced fireworks, but they have a special place in American history as well.  In 1776, just after the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress, John Adams, the second US President, wrote to his wife Abigail that America’s independence ought to be solemnized “with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”  By illuminations, he was referring to fireworks.

Fireworks and Your Hearing

Public fireworks, though not typically heard up close, are still explosions and can be very loud.

Fireworks can reach maximum sound output levels in the 130 to 150 dB SPL range, certainly, way beyond peak sound pressure levels recommended for children 120 dB, or 140 dB SPL for adults as recommended by the World Health Organization.  In the United States, OHSA noise regulations are used to determine the allowable noise exposure.

Keep in mind that the sound level of fireworks tends to be related to how/where they are used, with the levels increasing from category 1 through 4:

  1. Indoor fireworks
  2. Garden fireworks
  3. Display fireworks for open areas such as fields
  4. Professional fireworks for large open spaces

In recent years the number of “quieter” fireworks have increased for consumer fireworks, with 120 dB noise limit on all consumer fireworks, and the amount of flash powder (a chemical that produces the loud bangs) reduced (European Union).  Looking at the list of fireworks sold as quieter items, these have whistles or crackles instead of bangs. However, for large fireworks displays, if one is looking for something spectacular – quiet and spectacular do not mix.  The reason is because “spectacular” is achieved by large bursting effects that create a lot of noise.

Firework Noise Prevention 

Of course, the level to which one may be exposed to high noise levels depends on the location of the observer from the fireworks, and the type of fireworks.  An open environment is better than an environment surrounded by large buildings, especially if they are close to the point of explosion.  In this case, the sound can bounce from one building to the next, sometimes enforcing the sound.  Sound in an open environment is dissipated more readily.

Helpful Hints

To Decrease Noise Exposure – Increase Distance

The further one is from the fireworks, the lower is the overall sound level, making it less likely that the levels will affect hearing.  But, how far away should one be for protection?

Have a little fireworks fun using some basic math

1.  Estimate distance.  Upon seeing the “flash” of the fireworks, count the number of seconds until you hear the “boom” associated with it.  Sound in air travels at approximately 1100 ft/sec.  In the example below, if the time between seeing the flash until you hear the blast is 3 seconds, you can expect the distance from the fireworks sound source is 0.6 miles.



2.  Estimate sound level.  Assume this is a large public fireworks display and that the fireworks at 10 feet is a sound level of 150 dB SPL.   This is a “guesstimate” level based on a number of current published measurements.  Keep also in mind that more recent fireworks makers have been working at “softer” fireworks levels.  If you were a half mile away, the sound level would be 102 dB SPL.  If the measured sound level is less than 150 dB, each successive halving of the distance lowers the overall sound level 6 dB.

Level With Distance

A good rule of thumb is to avoid noises that are “too loud,” “too close,” or that last “too long.”


Noise Levels Large DisplaysTo the right is a sample of non scientific measurements made at a major fireworks show, with 9 measurements made during this large audience display.  The range of measurement duration was between 52 seconds and 19 minutes, with some measurements of an entire display (#5) and some much shorter with just a single rocket (#9).  Distance from the sound source was not specified.  A summary of the overall data follows{{1}}[[1]]Tingay, J. Noise levels from fireworks – a very unscientific measurement, Noise News, November 2011[[1]]:


Hearing Protection

Brie dB BlockersWear earplugs or headphones/earmuffs to protect hearing, especially that of children.  For children, ear protection can have an additional advantage – the child will be less frightened by the loud sounds.  Multiple styles of hearing protection are readily available at any sport shop or from a hearing professional, but for children, headphones may be the best choice because they are more likely to remain in place.

The packaging of any hearing protection should indicate the NRR (noise reduction rating).  The higher the number, the better the protection.  It is unlikely that you will find hearing protection with NRR ratings above about 30 dB, meaning that they are stated to reduce the noise level by 30 dB.  It is important that earplugs fit into the ear canal properly to provide the maximum protection promoted on the package. Because fit does matter – we are seeing more individuals are purchasing custom hearing protection like dB Blockers.


Will OSHA Bring The Heat This Summer?

June 17, 2019


This past Memorial Day weekend, the southeastern region of the United States experienced a historic heatwave that set all-time records. It’s only going to get hotter, and temperatures throughout the summer can create hazards for workers working both outside and inside. You could be held liable for creating conditions that lead to heat-related injuries and illnesses that may occur during these warm months, so you should take steps now to keep your employees safe and limit your legal exposure.

This past Memorial Day weekend, the southeastern region of the United States experienced a historic heatwave that set all-time records. It’s only going to get hotter, and temperatures throughout the summer can create hazards for workers working both outside and inside. You could be held liable for creating conditions that lead to heat-related injuries and illnesses that may occur during these warm months, so you should take steps now to keep your employees safe and limit your legal exposure.

Current Legal Framework

Although the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have a specific standard that covers working in hot environments, the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires you to provide a place of employment that is “free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees.” This includes heat-related hazards. Meanwhile, state OSHA plans in California, Washington, and Minnesota have enacted protective heat standards.

But just because federal OSHA does not have a specific standard in place doesn’t mean it hasn’t spoken on the subject. The agency has issued various Standard Interpretation letters discussing heat stress in workplaces. In a May 2010 Standard Interpretation letter, OSHA provided methods of abating heat stress hazards in workplaces, including permitting workers to drink water or cold liquids (e.g., sports drinks) at liberty, establishing a work/rest regimen so that exposure time to high temperatures and the work rate is decreased, and developing an overall heat stress program.

In August 2014, OSHA again addressed heat-related hazards by announcing that it was once again sponsoring its campaign to “Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers.” The agency noted that “thousands of workers experience serious heat-related illnesses every year and dozens are killed,” and that it wanted “to make sure that employers and workers know the steps they can take to prevent heat-related illness and death.”

Pressure To Adopt Federal Standards 

Both of these letters, however, were issued under the previous presidential administration, and the current administration has been largely silent in addressing the issue. Some advocacy groups want to change that and have tried to put heat on OSHA to address the matter head on.

Public Citizen, a consumer and health advocacy group, along with 131 other organizations and 89 other individuals (including farmworker advocacy groups and former OSHA directors), sent a letter to the Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Health and Safety on July 17, 2018 petitioning federal OSHA to establish the first federal standards to protect outdoor and indoor workers from occupational exposure to excessive heat. The petitioning parties cite the effects of global warming and climate change as causing the need for the agency to establish protection for workers from the dangers of exposure to excessive heat.

Public Citizen highlights in its petition that California conducted 50 times more inspections resulting in a citation or violation for unsafe heat exposure practices as federal OSHA did nationwide between 2013 and 2017. The group argues that this disparity supports the federal agency implementing a specific, enforceable heat standard rather than simply relying on the General Duty Clause.

Suggested Criteria

Public Citizen argues any proposed standard should be based on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) latest criteria for a recommended standard for occupational exposure to heat and hot environments. The suggested standard includes elements such as:

  • Mandatory Rest Breaks: Mandatory rest breaks away from the hot environment in duration from 15 to 45 minutes per hour at certain heat thresholds.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: When heat exposure levels reach the recommended exposure limit or recommended alert limit, employers must provide PPE to protect workers from heat-related illness. Such PPE may include cooling vests and light-colored, breathable fabric.
  • Shade: Employers must provide access to sufficient areas of shade during the rest breaks.
  • Hydration: Access to water in quantities sufficient to maintain adequate levels of hydration at varying levels of heat, as well as electrolytes if workers are sweating for more than two hours.
  • Heat Acclimatization Plan: Workers beginning work in high-heat environments, or who will be working in hotter conditions than usual, must be gradually acclimatized to the work over a period of at least 7-14 days.

Public Citizen and other groups previously petitioned federal OSHA for a heat standard in 2011. At that point, OSHA formally rejected the petition citing its authority to cite an employer for heat hazards under the General Duty Clause. It appears likely that OSHA maintains that position, as it has not responded to Public Citizen’s July 2018 correspondence. However, Congress – specifically the now Democrat-controlled House – may pressure OSHA to take action when it comes to heat standards.

Despite the lack of a specific standard addressing heat safety, you should follow the NIOSH guidelines when temperatures rise and your employees are exposed to extreme heat.


Fisher Phillips – Nicholas Hulse and Travis W. Vance

Noise Sensitivity Exists, Even in The Smallest of Ears

June 11, 2019

Custom Protect Ear (CPE) has been creating personalized hearing protection for over 40 years. Although CPE has been servicing the industrial sector, it’s technology and innovation has been able to reach and help children with sensitivity to noise. Recently, a concerned mother reached out to our Head Office in Surrey BC, Canada asking for the possibility of helping her four-year-old son, Gabe, with noise sensitivity.

Gabe has Potocki-Lupski syndrome (PTLS) which mimics autism traits including hearing sensitivity.

The noise sensitivity has stopped Gabe from engaging with his peers and he has become overwhelmed in high traffic areas such as a play center or shopping mall where the noise is enhanced. The team at Custom Protect Ear was so inspired by Gabe’s journey, they decided to get him fitted for a pair of dB Blockers and send them to him in Australia.

Laura, Canadian Director of Sales, took this project under her wing. Laura liaised with the family and walked them through the impression and manufacturing process and provided them with a pair of custom dB Blockers. The one thing that Gabe was tasked with was to pick the color – he chose orange because of his favorite monster truck! After that, Laura advised the family that the Vented Convertible style would be best suited to Gabe’s needs.

When the dB Blockers arrived, Gabe’s dad called his mom 5 times to let her know that they arrived.

After wearing the dB Blockers, Gabe’s mother stated, “this product has had a profound impact on Gabe’s social experiences and has enabled him to participate in activities in a way we have never seen before or dare hoped to see.

dBBlocker - vented convertible


Gabe’s Mother had sent Laura an email explaining the impact:

“Hi Laura,

I would like to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Gabe is sensitive to overstimulation of the senses including hearing, usually resulting in anxiety, stimming, hair pulling or biting or running away (and boy is he fast). Tasks like shopping trips were tough, but this also impacted on his ability to participate in social settings such as a playground or party. On day two of wearing his dB Blockers, we tried the mall.  We were surprised by the sudden change in our son’s behavior.

Usually, within 5 minutes, Gabe would become overstimulated and hyperactive or anxious. Instead, he held my hand, walked beside me and pointed at things of interest. For the 40 minutes we were there, he showed no signs of distress. We even ran into a friend who has a child (which usually results in Gabe hiding behind my leg). Gabe walked straight up to him and said hi.

On day 7 of wearing his dB Blockers, Gabe attended a birthday party with more than 30 Guests. Having seen how the dB Blockers had been helping him, we thought it was an ideal test for a social environment. Not only did he stay at the party for more than 10 minutes, but two hours later he was standing among a group of kids collecting lollies. My husband and I watched, trying to hold in tears as we saw our son actively interact with a group of children, he was not familiar with for the first time.

dBBlocker - vented convertible


To list all the benefits for Gabe would be too long of an email, however, we want to mention that in the last few weeks, we have watched Gabe’s confidence grow and his social skills flourish. His teachers have commented daily on his eagerness to play with other children, where in the past he played independently on the outskirts.

We have also seen an improvement in the clarity of his speech (he has a significant speech delay) and a newfound determination to try new sounds. Because of your support to acquire dB Blockers for Gabe, his life is changed. Custom Protect Ear has provided Gabe with a tool which allows him greater opportunities to interact with society and express his capabilities. Thank you,” 

Kind regards,

~ ‘Mom, Dad’ and Gabe.

Custom Protect Ear is sincerely committed to making a difference in lives’ that are so adversely affected by noise. Thank you, ‘Mom, Dad’ and Gabe, for letting us be a part of your journey and inspiring us with your strength and courage.

~ The Custom Protect Ear Team.


The Not-So-Quiet Dangers of Hearing Loss

June 4, 2019

Take steps to prevent hearing damage in the workplace before it happens.

Some of the most prevalent workplace hazards aren’t seen—they’re heard. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to damaging noise levels at work, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), workplace-related hearing loss is the most commonly reported injury.

It’s not surprising, then, that hearing loss disability accounts for an estimated $242 million in workers’ compensation payments each year, according to the Department of Labor.

Approximately 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 15% of those aged 20 to 65 are living with some level of noise-induced hearing loss.

Noises over 85 decibels (dB) warrant the use of protection. For reference, normal talking is 60 dB, city traffic is 85 dB and a rock concert or a tractor is about 100-115 dB. Without proper protection, prolonged noise exposure in a factory setting can compound the hearing loss incurred from everyday noises.

Because hearing damage is cumulative and permanent, it is vital—and in many cases required—for businesses to protect their workers’ hearing, especially for those with a workforce exposed to loud machinery, power tools, and heavy equipment. In this article, we’ll examine the top industries affected by hearing loss and identify opportunities to minimize noise through hearing conservation programs.


hearing at work

From office environments to busy construction sites, workplace hearing loss is a reality for many industries. However, there are workers in certain roles who are at increased risk of hearing damage, and the needs of these employees should be more closely monitored and accommodated.

Hearing Loss in the Manufacturing Industry

For workers in the manufacturing industry, hearing loss is the most commonly recorded occupational injury. Between compressed air, which is an estimated 92 dB, and loud machinery like grinders, drills and milling machines, which typically hit dB levels 95 and above, it’s important for employers to take extra care to protect workers’ hearing.

Hearing Loss in the Construction, Carpentry and Mining Industries

Loud power tools also make workers in construction, carpentry and mining industries particularly susceptible to hearing loss. In fact, some tools, like a jackhammer, can reach up to 130 dB—more than 45 dB above the recommended limit. When exposed to these sounds for extended periods of time during a shift, the risk of hearing damage increases.

Likewise, miners are regularly exposed to sounds related to drilling into rock in a confined work environment, and as a result most miners have some form of hearing loss by the time they retire, according to the CDC.
Other industries most commonly affected by hearing loss include entertainment and nightlife, military, agriculture and farming.


Hearing is the body’s built-in alarm system and plays a vital role in protecting a person from physical harm. Hearing picks up on possible dangers that may not be visible yet, like the sound of an approaching truck or the clanging of a broken machine. However, when hearing is compromised, the built-in alarm system isn’t as effective and may not pick up on incoming dangers as quickly, putting workers at risk.

Workplace accidents are common among workers with hearing damage due to reduced situational awareness or the inability to hear a warning siren or signal.

The risks associated with hearing loss don’t stop there. Not only does hearing loss contribute to workplace-related issues, but it can also take a toll on an employee’s quality of life. Hearing loss is permanent, and as it worsens, it can make interpersonal communication difficult and frustrating, putting a strain on relationships. In addition, ringing in the ears associated with hearing loss can be disruptive to normal sleep patterns and concentration, which sometimes can increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and stress. All of these factors may contribute to underperformance or dissatisfaction at work.

hearing protection


When it comes to hearing loss, prevention is key. Almost all work-related hearing loss is cumulative and permanent, so it’s important for employers to take steps to prevent damage before it happens.

A great step in preventing work-related hearing damage is to implement a hearing conservation program. Not only do these programs protect workers from occupational hearing loss, but they can also play a role in increasing employees’ sense of well-being and reduce the incidence of stress-related disease. Stress decreases blood flow that helps hair cells within the ear work properly. Therefore, reducing workers’ stress can help maintain the overall health of the ear.

Hearing conservation is an OSHA mandate that requires companies to take action and institute occupational noise and hearing conservation programs for employees who work in areas where the probable exposure to noise equals or exceeds an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA) sound level of 85 dB.

An effective hearing conservation program includes regular, ongoing sound monitoring, audiograms, employee training and protective equipment.

Regular, Ongoing Sound Monitoring

Sound level meters and dosimeters are two important elements of an effective hearing conservation program. Sound level meters measure sound intensity at a specific moment, while dosimeters measure a person’s average exposure to noise over a period of time. Employers can monitor and record sound levels throughout the workplace to help employees understand areas where the risk of hearing loss may be higher.


An effective hearing conservation program includes taking a baseline audiogram, which takes place 14 hours or more after the employee was last exposed to occupational noise. Following the baseline audiogram, annual audiograms should be performed to record any changes. These results should be analyzed and compared to previous tests to provide insights into how an employee’s hearing has changed. These changes are recorded as a Standard Threshold Shift (STS) if the loss is greater than a certain level.

An STS is a detectable change in hearing when compared to the baseline audiogram. If a shift is identified, an employer is required to inform the employee within 21 days and refer them to an audiologist for follow-up testing and possible treatment. This also is a good opportunity for both employers and employees to assess hearing protection methods and make any needed changes.

Employee Training

Training workers is another essential step to educating a workforce about the risks associated with hearing loss and the importance of prevention. At a minimum, employers should conduct an annual noise training with all employees, but regular reminders throughout the year are also recommended. For example, hanging educational posters and noise maps, which highlight decibel levels throughout the workplace, is a great way to remind employees throughout the year to take steps to mitigate hearing damage.

It can also be helpful to offer one-on-one educational sessions with individual employees who may be exposed to louder noises on a regular basis.

Protective Equipment

db BlockersIn addition to monitoring and training, employers must also provide workers with suitable equipment to protect hearing while at work. In fact, this is an OSHA requirement for workplaces where the noise levels meet or exceed 85 dB.

There are a wide variety of options when it comes to hearing protection devices and employers can often find several appropriate options that fit the needs of employees and the workplace. Examples include earplugs and earmuffs that come in a wide variety of different styles, like disposable, custom molded and reusable, to fit employers’ and employees’ preferences.


Reed Erickson | EHS Today

Don’t Forget! May Is Better Hearing and Speech Month

May 21, 2019

Each May, Noisy Planet joins the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)(link is external), one of our collaborators, in observing Better Hearing and Speech Month.

Noisy Planet celebrates this annual opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and hearing health—in particular, the causes and prevention of noise-induced hearing loss. This year’s theme is “Communication Across the Lifespan.” Noisy Planet reminds preteens, parents, and professionals who interact with preteens that hearing loss from noise typically develops slowly over time, so it is important to form healthy hearing habits early.

During Better Hearing and Speech Month, join Noisy Planet in spreading the word about hearing protection with our new educational resources:


Poster features a young girl wearing protective earmuffs and smiling as she is surrounded by cartoon drawings of noise sources including a jet, a motorcycle, a lawn mower, an ambulance, fireworks, and an electric guitar.
A young boy speaking letters. Text reads May Is Better Hearing and Speech Month. Communication across the lifespan.

Preventing hearing loss promotes lifelong learning, and staying connected to our family, our friends, and our surroundings. Approximately 13 to 18 percent of U.S. teens have signs of possible noise-induced hearing loss, according to a recent study of hearing tests from 1988 to 2010. Although the study showed that the overall prevalence of this form of hearing loss has not changed significantly in the past 22 years, that’s still a lot of teens who are likely to lose some of their hearing over time. In addition, tens of millions of U.S. adults ages 20 to 69 have measurable hearing loss likely due to noise exposure. Children and teens who develop healthy hearing habits early on can take steps to protect their hearing for life!

Noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented by adopting these healthy hearing habits:

  • Lower the volume.
  • Move away from the noise.
  • Wear hearing protectors such as earplugs or earmuffs.




When it comes to safety, nothing is common sense

May 8, 2019

Woman’s business helps companies stay OSHA compliant

by Joe Gamm

There is no such thing as common sense.

osha-safetyWhat is obvious to one person may not be obvious to another, according to Bethany Graves (Watson), a consultant specializing in occupational safety based out of Jefferson City. Graves specializes in helping companies conform to Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines. 


Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines

Graves recently presented a program to the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, in which she explained the agency’s requirements, including employer and employee responsibilities, record keeping, training, and written programs.

She explained some of OSHA’s standards and guidelines.
The organization has a lot of guidelines. It must, Graves said, if it is to keep workers safe from harm. Despite OSHA’s work, more than 4,500 U.S. workers die in work-related incidents in private industry every year. For calendar year 2017, there were 4,674 worker fatalities. Of those, 971 (one in five) were in construction. The leading cause of private-sector worker deaths in construction (excluding highway collisions) were falls, then “struck by an object,” electrocution and “caught in or between.”

According to the agency website,, the top 10 most frequently cited standards violations in 2017 were lack of fall protection, failure to provide hazard communication, failure to meet scaffolding requirements, lack of adequate respiratory protection, lack of lockouts or other controls to prevent electrocution, improper use of ladders, violations of “powered industrial trucks” (or forklifts) regulations, lack of fall prevention training, failure to provide machine guards (to keep employees from moving parts), and eye or face protection.

On its website, the agency provides its guidelines for all industries in a 270-page document. Additional training information may be found elsewhere, according to the document.

The agency divides its safety guidelines into four categories, Graves said, general industry (which is generally made up of businesses that are static and do not fall into the other categories), agriculture, construction and maritime.

“Each industry has specific requirements,” said Graves, whose company, 365 Safety Services, does safety consulting for companies. “Some standards (within those industries) have even more requirements.” For example, within fall protection standards, there is what is called the “competent person,” who is responsible for the fall protection program and equipment and making sure everyone is using it properly.

The website also provides safety and training materials.

Graves helps businesses prepare for what happens if the agency does an inspection, tells them about how it works and explains businesses record-keeping requirements.

Safety Glasses

Basically, OSHA says employers must train their employees on everything — even how to put on safety glasses.

“If they’ve never done it before, you do,” she said. “The big thing is teaching employees the limitations of those glasses. When you’re grinding, you need to have a face shield on, too. So, it’s the limitations of the types of protective equipment.”

Hearing Protection

If someone has never hammered a nail into a board, and that’s their new job, they need to be trained how to do that, she said. In noisy work environments, where ear protection is necessary, an employer has to train the employees on how to install earplugs. in some cases, it is vital to hearing safety that proper wearing instructions of custom hearing prodBBlocker ducts also be applied. 

“You need to train them in where earplugs are required in the facility or on a construction job site, or on when the employee is using specific tools or equipment,” she said.

She suggested if employers aren’t certain if hearing protection is required that they go online and download a noise app for their phones. There is a variety of such apps on the App Store for prices ranging from $1-$20. If the app produces a reading over 90 decibels, the employer may need to do a noise level survey, which basically determines an average of the noise over eight hours.

Respiratory Protection

Respiratory protection is determined in a similar survey.

Proactive companies that have components of respiratory hazards have very particular requirements for respiratory tests. They require new employees to fill out an extensive medical questionnaire, receive a pulmonary function test and be examined by a physician.

“All industries might need it, including construction,” Graves said. “The smart companies have baseline hearing tests done upon hiring of a new employee. If they already have hearing loss — let’s say they like to four-wheel, shoot guns and listen to loud rock and roll — they may have already experienced some hearing loss. That’s on the record and not attributable to the company.”

Graves said she always recommends that companies, except for those with an office atmosphere, do hearing tests.

Inspections/Compliance and Consultations

OSHA has two sides — inspections/compliance and consultations. The consultation side will come into a facility for free and do a comprehensive assessment if requested. The organization will then write up a report and tell the company what it needs to improve on.

OSHA isn’t the scary organization many people make it out to be, Graves said.

“They’ve evolved a lot even since I’ve been involved in safety,” she said. “They used to focus on the compliance side. Now, they focus a lot on the company side of things. They want to provide consultations. They want you to train your employees. They provide online training. And they’ll come out and train as well.”

Inspection Process 

  1.  Companies should never know when OSHA is going to show up for an inspection. It is illegal for the agency to notify a company of an impending inspection. There are numerous reasons the agency may show up at a work site or company — if there were a fatality, if the agency received an employee complaint, if the business were the site of a serious injury where someone was overnight hospitalized, if there was an amputation or even because it’s part of the agency’s local emphasis. If OSHA sees a rise in certain kinds of work-related injuries, it may focus on a particular industry. “One year, they focused on funeral homes. Why would they focus on funeral homes?” Graves asked. “Formaldehyde. People were being exposed to formaldehyde.”
  2. Upon arrival at a site for an inspection, OSHA officials would begin by showing their credentials. They would then conduct an “opening conference” to tell the employer why they are there, such as one of the aforementioned causes.
  3. The third part of the visit is the inspection itself. “I’ve known companies that — on the inspection — (investigators) just said, ‘We want to see your OSHA logbook,’” Graves said. “They may just want to see your paperwork.” Or they may simply want to see one portion of a plant. On the other hand, inspectors can also observe from across the street for two days and then walk in, completely unannounced. “Maybe they just saw a job site that looked terrible — a guy working on a third-story roof with no fall protection,” Graves said. “That’s terrible. That’s what’s called ‘imminent danger.’ In that case, they probably wouldn’t sit across the street for two days. They would actually go up right then. “They don’t want anyone to die on the job.”
  4. The fourth step of an inspection is called the closing conference. It doesn’t happen at the time of the inspection. The inspector takes the data back to an area director, who determines which citation, if any, will be issued to a company and the fine associated with it.

bethany graves

About Bethany Graves – a consultant specializing in occupational safety 

Graves said that when she’s consulting with companies, she talks about safety not only within the workplace, but also at home. A person can just as easily receive a serious injury at home as they can at work, and that would prevent them from receiving a paycheck.

Young people coming into a construction company who have never used a hammer or saw before may just want a paycheck, Graves said. They don’t realize that what they do today is going to affect them for the rest of their lives, especially if they maim or seriously hurt themselves.

“I’m very passionate about safety. I always feel like no one should go to work and not come home,” she said. “What’s common sense to you is not common sense to me.

“One thing I hear from employers is, ‘It’s just common sense. He should know not to do that.’ I don’t believe anything is common sense.”

What is OSHA

OSHA is part of the United States Department of Labor. The administrator for OSHA is the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. OSHA’s administrator answers to the Secretary of Labor, who is a member of the cabinet of the President of the United States.

With the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.

April is World Autism Month

April 29, 2019
April is Autism Month April is World Autism Month, an annual opportunity for a dedicated conversation about autism spectrum disorder. Autism touches more than 70 million people globally. Approximately 1 in 66 children and youth are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Canada and this number continues to grow.

In 2008, The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day – many countries around the world light up their landmarks blue to help increase understanding and acceptance of people with Autism.

How Custom Protect Ear (CPE) contributes to World Autism Month

At CPE we care about Noise Sensitivity and the impact it has on Autistic Children. Recently we helped Brie, a vibrant young girl living with a mild case of autism.

Custom Protect Ear and its’ dB Cares program was happy to help Brie manage her sensitivity to noise with a pair of dB Blockers (link). dB Blockers™ offer “The Smartest Hearing Protection in the World”, especially where interpersonal communication is required. dB Blockers™ are custom fit to each individual wearer for maximum comfort.

dB Blocker

“I cannot thank you enough for the custom pieces you made for my daughter’s ears.  

I often ask her how she likes certain books, food, music, shows, etc. and she will respond indifferently with “fine”, “ok” or “meh” – when I ask her how she likes her earplugs she has consistently responded enthusiastically “AMAZING”. She has mentioned independently while at the park or for walks that “those earplugs will be GREAT for assemblies” at school. I didn’t realize how stressful a simple assembly could be in her special condition! Your product has truly made an impact. Looking forward to trying out in a variety of situations “

~ Michelle (Brie’s Mother)

Want to learn more – please email us at

or visit us on Instagram or Facebook 





Earth Day 2019

April 22, 2019

“In nature, nothing exists alone.”
— Rachel Carson, 1962

Nature’s gifts to our planet are the millions of species that we know and love, and many more that remain to be discovered. Unfortunately, human beings have irrevocably upset the balance of nature and, as a result, the world is facing the greatest rate of extinction since we lost the dinosaurs more than 60 million years ago. But unlike the fate of the dinosaurs, the rapid extinction of species in our world today is the result of human activity.
The good news is that the rate of extinctions can still be slowed, and many of our declining, threatened and endangered species can still recover if we work together now to build a united global movement of consumers, voters, educators, faith leaders, and scientists to demand immediate action.

Earth Day Network is asking people to join our Protect our Species campaign.

The goals are to:

  • Educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.
  • Achieve major policy victories that protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats.
  • Build and activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values.
  • Encourage individual actions such as adopting a plant-based diet and stopping pesticide and herbicide use.

Custom Protect Ear Carbon Footprint

By purchasing any of our hearing protection products, you are helping us give back to the community. dB Cares™ is a Custom Protect Ear (CPE) initiative created to address the impact our doing business has on the environment and to help support the people and community where we live and work. We are also committed to making a difference in the battle against Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. There is more to CPE…

dB Cares™ For The Planet

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 our 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.
Protect Ear

From all of us at Custom Protect Ear – Happy Earth Day, do your part.



Solving the Hearing Loss Epidemic – One Ear at a Time

April 16, 2019

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

According to OSHA, “Loud noise can create physical and psychological stress, reduce productivity, interfere with communication and concentration, and contribute to workplace accidents and injuries by making it difficult to hear warning signals,” the agency states, adding that noise-induced hearing loss can impair a person’s ability to understand speech and communicate.

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

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

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

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

Sound Advice on Hearing Protection


Advances in technology allow employers to provide workers with hearing protection that doesn’t disrupt situational awareness. This includes the addition of FT filters embedded in medical grade silicone custom hearing protection, called dB Blockers. The proprietary frequency tuned filter allows communication without removal of the ear plugs. People can communicate in noise better while wearing their dB Blocker™ hearing protection, then if they were to remove them. A dB Blocker Hearing Loss Prevention Program will enhance productivity.  Workers can communicate without having to remove their hearing protection, preventing hearing loss and avoiding mistakes due to miscommunication.

How to Wear

Just because you own hearing protection does not mean you are wearing it correctly. If hearing protection isn’t worn the way it’s designed to be worn, workers are more vulnerable to injury. This may seem straightforward, yet, a large percentage of users don’t take the time to wear hearing protection properly.

Another common problem is overprotection. When workers use hearing protection that prevents any sounds from being heard, a worker may be considered “functionally deaf” and this is a safety issue.  If a worker has trouble communicating with co-workers, or can’t hear emergency signals, back up signals or dangerous noises this may lead to injury or death.

Fit check surveys continue to imply numerous employees are not wearing their options properly. Most companies in the industrial sector have gone above and beyond to ensure that in-house hearing protection meets the occupational standards, but if workers are not complying and educating themselves – we will not solve the hearing loss epidemic.

Don’t take your hearing for granted, we don’t realize we have hearing loss until it is too late.


Why earplugs should be at the top of your packing list

April 9, 2019

Festival season’s coming up, and it’s time to start prepping. For some, that might mean investing in some new earplugs. Our Team is committed to harm reduction on all fronts, including hearing loss prevention. We want to make sure you’re on the dance floor with us for a long time, so here are some tips to keep your ears in top shape.


Concert goers

What are some signs that I should wear earplugs?

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association warns that anything above 85db can permanently damage your ears. Chances are your favorite concerts measure 100 db or above. If you know you’re going to be at a concert, you should always wear them. As a rule of thumb, it’s too loud to go without earplugs if you need to raise your voice to talk to a friend. If they’re within three feet of you and you can’t understand them, put in earplugs right away. Other surefire signs include muffled hearing and tinnitus when you move into a quieter space. Your ears are telling you they’re under too much strain.

What factors lead to hearing loss?

The most obvious factor is the noise level of a sound, but proximity and duration also play a role in determining if you’re at risk for hearing loss. You can listen to sounds at 85 db without hearing loss for 8 hours, but after that, you’re at risk. An especially loud noise can cause hearing loss instantly. If you go hard at the rail when you’re at shows, you’re in the most dangerous range for hearing loss.

What kind of earplugs should I get?dB Blockers Music

Your hearing is worth investing in, so we recommend some high-quality earplugs that will filter harmful noise but still allow you to enjoy the show. It’s helpful to check the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) to get a general idea of how well they protect your ears but look at descriptions and reviews to see what they’re best for. Some earplugs won’t protect you against the full range of frequencies even if the NRR is high. 

At Custom Protect Ear we have the dB Life™ Sweet Tones Musicians Earpieces

These are hearing protectors that reduce all frequencies equally by 9 dB, 15 dB or 25 dB with corresponding Flat Attenuation Filters. It is designed for musicians or concert goers who want to hear music without distortion but with less volume.

A steep price-tag for hearing protection can be hard to swallow, but we all want you to keep listening to the music you love as long as possible. Hearing loss continues to be a major issue in the US, and youth are particularly susceptible. We hope you’ll take the plunge and spread the word to protect yours’ and your friends’ ears. Learn More about Hearing Protection


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