Noise Pollution – Yes it’s bad for your health

April 12, 2017

Noise Pollution: What is it

Every day, we experience sound in our environment, such as the sounds from television and radio, household appliances, and traffic. Normally, these sounds are at safe levels that don’t damage our hearing. But sounds can be harmful when they are too loud, even for a brief time, or when they are both loud and long-lasting.

The growing noise pollution problem has many different causes. Booming population growth and the loss of rural land to urban sprawl both play a role. Other causes include the lack of adequate anti-noise regulations in many parts of the world; the electronic nature of our age, which encourages many noisy gadgets; the rising number of vehicles on the roads; and busier airports.

noise pollution

What is Noise Pollution: Environmental Protection Agency

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency Noise Pollution is:

“The traditional definition of noise is “unwanted or disturbing sound”.  Sound becomes unwanted when it either interferes with normal activities such as sleeping, conversation, or disrupts or diminishes one’s quality of life.  The fact that you can’t see, taste or smell it may help explain why it has not received as much attention as other types of pollution, such as air pollution, or water pollution.  The air around us is constantly filled with sounds, yet most of us would probably not say we are surrounded by noise.  Though for some, the persistent and escalating sources of sound can often be considered an annoyance.  This “annoyance” can have major consequences, primarily to one’s overall health.”¹

In the 1970s, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a recommended noise exposure limit of 55 decibels in a 24-hour period, with nighttime noise weighted more heavily because it can interfere with sleep. For comparison, a quiet suburb has a decibel level of about 50, while freeway traffic is closer to 70 and a chain saw is 120 decibels.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has long identified transportation—passenger vehicles, trains, buses, motorcycles, medium and heavy trucks, and aircraft—as one of the most pervasive outdoor noise sources, estimating in its 1981 Noise Effects Handbook that more than 100 million people in the United States are exposed to noise sources from traffic near their homes.

Noise pollution is an often-overlooked source of environmental stress that can raise your risk of serious health conditions, including heart disease. In the US it’s estimated that 100 million people are exposed to unhealthy levels of noise, typically from automobile and aircraft traffic (although everything from leaf blowers and lawnmowers to loud music can also contribute). If you find yourself exposed to noise pollution on a daily basis, we strongly suggest you protect your earing with two way communication Hearing Protection Devices such a dB Blockers.

Quieting Noise Pollution Could Save $3.9 Billion a Yearnoise

Noise pollution may increase your risk of hearing loss, stress, sleep disturbances, and heart disease. A new analysis conducted an environmental assessment of US noise pollution as a cardiovascular health hazard, and revealed small decreases in noise could add up to major economic savings.

The analyses suggested that a 5-decibel noise reduction would reduce the prevalence of high blood pressure by 1.4 percent and coronary heart disease by 1.8 percent. The annual economic benefit was estimated at $3.9 billion.3

The researchers assumed that noise exposure levels in 2013 were the same as those assessed in 1981. However, as urbanization has increased it’s likely these are underestimates and reductions in noise may impact even more people than the study suggested.

Silence is Golden

If you can’t avoid a noisy environment, should you play white noise in order to drown out the rest? White noise is a nondescript background hum, kind of like the noise of a fan or of someone saying “Shhhh!” continuously. Listening to white noise may turn out to be better than listening to intermittent speech if it successfully drowns out the speech, but that doesn’t mean it’s ideal. Learn more about how to protect yourself from noise.



  2. Senior author Richard L. Neitzel of the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor told Reuters:




How to Protect your hearing and Protection Devices in cold weather

March 8, 2017

Can you believe its March and some places are still getting snow!  For those of you living in the west coast you may be having an extended winter with unpredictable weather changes. Although uncertain uncertain environment brings stress and anxiety it also brings extra caution and attention to details.

How to Protect your hearing and Protection Devices in cold weather

Located in Surrey BC – Custom Protect Ear has experienced a long not average WINTER. Just when you think spring is around the corner it seems to snow again. They are calling it SNOWMAGEDON here is the province of BC. So in this kind of cold there are a few precautions you should take to avoid unnecessarily damaging your hearing aids and protection during the cold, winter months.

Ear infections

Winter brings a higher risk of ear infection, in both children and adults, for several reasons. One of these reasons is that less blood is circulated in the cold; add that to greater risk of irritation, trapped moisture or bacteria and you have a recipe for a painful condition known as otitis media.
Ear infections are inflammations of the middle ear which result from a cold, an infection or presence of a virus or bacteria. Infected material builds up behind the eardrum and blocks the Eustachian tube. Antibiotics can treat most ear infections but until the fluid is cleared, untreated temporary hearing loss can result. Be sure to treat colds and flu immediately with rest, medication and plenty of fluids, and if you suspect an ear infection see a doctor immediately to prevent hearing damage.
You can reduce your risk of ear infections by keeping your ears warm and dry when you are outside in winter weather. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising to improve blood circulation can also be helpful, especially in the winter months when resistance to infection is lower.

Extreme cold

It turns out earmuffs, hats, and scarves are not just fashion accessories. Excessive exposure to extreme cold and wet conditions can lead to a condition known as exostosis. Also known as “surfer’s ear” due to the condition being especially prevalent in those who spend time in or around cold water, exostosis results when exposure to the cold causes knobs of bony growth to appear on the bone surrounding the ear canal. As a result the ear canal can become blocked, which increases risk of infection due to trapped fluid. While the condition can be corrected surgically, avid skiers, snowmobilers or snowshoers should make sure to keep their ears warm, dry and covered to reduce their risk.

Protect your hearing aids

Hearing aids are especially susceptible to harsh winter elements, so wearing hats, scarves or earmuffs can not only protect your hearing, but your hearing aids as well. Wind, rain, cold and freezing temperatures can shorten battery life as well as allowing moisture to build up in your hearing aids. Keeping hearing aids warm and dry with a hat or earmuffs is a good idea, but keep in mind that if you wear those you might sweat, which will also cause moisture to build up in the hearing aids. An effective solution is to use a dry-aid kit overnight after removing batteries.

Indoor sports arenas

For many people, winter means spending time in arenas watching their favourite sports like basketball or hockey. But beware, because the decibels indoor arenas can, and often do, reach dangerous levels. And it is not an accident; arenas pride themselves on their fans’ enthusiasm and claim bragging rights for reaching record-breaking decibel levels. Some arenas can reach levels in excess of 120 decibels, which according to experts isHearing in cold weather enough to cause immediate damage. Even if the damage isn’t felt immediately, noise damage accumulates over time. So be sure to take along hearing protection; check out dB Blockers a long term, cost effective solution. Placed correctly, these custom earplugs will reduce the harmful vibrations from excessive noise and help save your hearing down the road.


Help Your Hearing, Improve Your Social Life, Get Healthier

February 22, 2017

Good hearing keeps you in the game, but how much is good social activity worth?

Various studies have linked social connections to better health and longer life, but it hasn’t been clear whether healthy people were more socially active to begin with.  A  review of 148 studies from researchers at Brigham Young University looked at healthy people who were followed for 7.5 years, on average.  The study(ies) controlled for the health of the subjects.

The results showed that the value of social interaction was stronger and than you might thing.  Based on the data from these studies,  weak social ties in your community are a major risk factor to your health,  at least as harmful to your health as smoking, lack of exercise or obesity. For instance:

  1.  You have a 50% lower risk of dying if you have close friends, family or work relationships.
  2.  Poor socialization threatens your health as much as if you were an alcoholic or were smoking a pack a day.
  3.  Poor social connections are harder on your health than not exercising, or being obese.

The study concludes that medical checkups should screen patients for social well being, with the goal of enhancing social connections.

It goes almost without saying that medical checkups should also screen patients for hearing loss, to ensure that patients have a good shot at maintaining social well being.  We think and hope readers will  agree that hearing well is an essential ingredient for developing and maintaining successful social networks.

Quality of Life






Read Full Article


CPE is ISO 9001 Certified

November 27, 2016

ISO 9001 Certified

ISO 9001 is a comprehensive quality management system standard. ISO 9001is maintained by ISO, the International Organization for Standardization and is administered by independent accreditation and certification bodies.

Some of the requirements in ISO 9001 include:

  • A set written procedures covering all processes in the business
  • Monitoring processes continuously to ensure they are effective
  • Keeping accurate records
  • Checking output for defects and taking appropriate and corrective action where necessary
  • Regularly reviewing individual processes and the quality system itself for effectiveness
  • Facilitating continual improvement

Benefits of being ISO Certified

Each standard supports its own benefits within every industry, however the common benefits across the certificationsscreen-shot-2016-11-21-at-1-07-59-pminclude: widened market potential, compliance to procurement tenders, improved efficiency and cost savings, higher level of customer service, and therefore satisfaction, and heightened staff moral and motivation.
By having a recognized management standard it allows us  to tell our customers that when it comes to quality and industry standards, we are serious about their needs. CPE is proud to be ISO 9001 certified.

ProtectEar USA works with Custom Protect Ear to ensure the Quality of its products.

Custom Protect Ear has been independently audited and certified to be in conformance with ISO 9001. This certification assures our customers that the quality of the products they currently trust to protect their hearing, will be the same quality they will get every time in the future. In addition to being ISO 9001certified, CPE is a member of AIHA (American Industrial Hygiene Association) and the NHCA (National Hearing Conservation Association).

CPE is also a member of the Acoustical Society of America and serves on the standard setting bodies of the ANSI S12 Committee, Working Group 11, responsible for the standards by which hearing protection is measured, as well as CSA S304 Noise and Vibration Technical Committee responsible for CSA’s set of hearing loss prevention standards Z94.2-02.

Learn more.. 

ISO 9001

Industrial hearing loss

September 6, 2016

What symptoms should you look for when it comes to industrial hearing loss?Industrial Hearing loss

Often those with hearing loss are the last to know! Do you have a slight concern that maybe your hearing is deteriorating and that you may not be able to hear quite as well as you once did? If you have ever been exposed to loud noises that “hurt” your ears either at work, home or recreationally you most likely have exposed yourself to hearing loss damage. What symptoms should you look for when it comes to industrial hearing loss?

  • Tinnitus or a “ringing in the ears” can be one of the first signs that damage may be occurring. If you have noticed this following exposure to loud noises or loud noises that occur close by you should be aware that this is one of the first symptoms for most people that this noise exposure is risking your ability to fully hear.

  • On the job are your co-workers or supervisors showing frustration having to repeat instructions or feeling like you are not understanding communications they are giving you verbally? Do you feel like people are speaking too softly or their speech is muffled? If others are able to hear but you are not, maybe it is time to examine hearing loss

  • Often it is certain frequencies of sound that are most affected. You may be able to hear low pitched sounds such as a deep male voice but maybe a woman’s or child voice at a higher pitch is more difficult for you to hear. Trouble hearing consonant sounds can also be symptomatic. Being aware that these are symptoms of hearing loss can be helpful in recognizing it.

  • In places with lots of background noise such as restaurants or busy workplaces do you find it more difficult to follow a conversation or hear instructions? Find out more about Custom Hearing Protection Devices

  • Do you feel more stressed in conversations because you are straining to hear what is being said?

  • Do you find yourself avoiding large gatherings or dreading meetings because you have difficulty understanding conversations or instructions? Find out more about 2 way communications devices. 

  • Do you routinely turn up the volume on radio’s, TV’s or ear phones because you simply cannot hear at lower volumes as well as others in the room?

  • Do you find yourself frequently asking someone to repeat what they have said or asking them to speak more slowly or clearly so that you can understand them?

    Hearing Loss

How many of these symptoms of hearing loss ring true to you? Take the time to understand how the symptoms of hearing loss may affect you and be open to investigating screening for hearing loss and also protecting one of your most valuable senses.

Shhh! America’s most common workplace injury is hearing loss

September 2, 2016

America’s most common workplace injury is hearing loss

Eight years ago, Jeff Ammon, now 55, began noticing a feeling of pressure in his ears every day after work.

Over the next months, when his symptoms progressed into a slight loss of hearing and sensitivity to noise, he became worried. Ammon, a construction worker for 32 years, eventually started wearing ear protection hoping this would address these complaints – but it was too late.

From that point on, sounds ranging from the hum of a lawnmower to normahearing lossl tones of conversation caused a piercing, jabbing pain in his inner ear. He stopped working in 2011, when the pain became unbearable. He also hears ringing in his ears and experiences dizziness, both side effects of the auditory damage.

“It’s debilitating … completely,” he said.

Ammon spent almost all of his working life surrounded by the loud noises of jackhammers, saws and air compressors. Now he avoids going outdoors, choosing instead to stay in his soundproof basement in Lebanon, Pa., and communicate with his doctor mostly through an online patient portal.

“The medication to address pain has not been very successful at all. … I’m also on some medication for stress, anxiety and depression,” he said. “It has isolated me from society.”

Ammon is not alone in suffering from workplace-related hearing loss.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the most common work-related injury with approximately 22 million workers exposed annually to hazardous levels of occupational noise. Workers in the mining sector, followed by those in construction and manufacturing, are most likely to suffer from hearing impairment. An estimated $242 million is spent on worker’s compensation annually for hearing loss disability, according to the Department of Labor.

In an effort to reduce these numbers, the Labor Department launched a challenge earlier this summer called “Hear and Now,” in which it is soliciting pitches for innovative ideas and technology to better alert workers of hazardous noise levels.

But critics say that while these efforts might help, technology to reduce hearing injuries already exists. They contend that the maximum level of noise exposure allowed before employers are required to provide sound-protection equipment is too low, and the regulations developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are outdated. For example, those regulations use sound level limits that don’t factor in the noise exposures that occur beyond the workplace – at restaurants, concerts and sporting venues, for instance –  that can add to workers’ cumulative risks of harm.

According to OSHA officials, the agency will issue a request for information later this year about current regulations at construction sites to figure out if more stringent protections are needed and how companies are complying. (The construction industry has often been held to separate noise-related rules and requirements than those in place for other industries.) The review may lead to an update to these rules, most of which date back to the 1970s. A similar call for information was issued in 2002, but no changes resulted from the action.

Employers may also have to shoulder the responsibility of instilling more awareness and education among their workers. For example, workers sometimes choose not to wear hearing protection at work sites because they are not aware of their risks – especially when they are not operating loud equipment.

Mark Cullen, a professor at Stanford University who explores workplace hazards,found in a study that the employees who suffer most from hearing loss were those who were working in jobs involving moderate noise levels instead of high-noise environments.

“At very high noise exposures, people very faithfully wear hearing protection and at low noise situations, people don’t,” he said.

For general industry workers who are exposed to noise for eight hours a day at or above a time-weighted average of 85 decibels, OSHA requires employers to provide notification, audiometric testing and free hearing protectors. Employers also have to offer training programs for affected workers. The limit is 90 decibels for an eight-hour exposure for construction industry workers.

Cullen said employers could build noise barriers or eliminate noisy equipment, but old factories often choose to just offer hearing protection gear.

“But the problem with hearing protections is it is way too easy, unsupervised, to take it off,” he said. “What would really make a difference is to train employers.”

He said there is also existing technology that will measure noise exposure in real time in each worker’s hearing protection gear, with lights that will flash when the level becomes hazardous. The data can be downloaded each day to monitor daily exposures.

Ammon worked for several small construction companies building houses.

He said he was never told to wear ear protection. His colleagues didn’t wear it either. No one talked about it and, even when he worked with loud equipment, he wasn’t aware of the need for it.

“It costs money. That’s my opinion on why it’s gotten as bad as it has, at least for small construction companies,”

Ammon said, and the rules are “just not enforced.”

Some of the steps taken by the federal government to move toward tightening regulations and increasing awareness suggest this might be changing. But in the meantime, people like Ammon, who feel disabled by their condition, might face difficulties in getting recognition for their symptoms and financial support.

He applied for Social Security disability benefits but was rejected because his condition was not on the Social Security Administration’s list of medical diseases considered disabling. When he first experienced his symptoms, he visited dozens of audiologists who only told him he had slight hearing loss. Research linking hyperacusis – unusual tolerance toward ordinary sounds – and pain was only at its infancy.  Specific treatments still are not available for people with this type of hearing damage.

These days, he experiments with new medications or therapies, hoping for more awareness about the illness – and about protecting hearing at the workplace. He is waiting for the third appeal for Social Security disability benefits.

“I’m hearing a little more about it, but not nearly enough,” he said. “And it needs to start at the workplace.”

Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation


Top 10 hearing loss related things you should be aware of in the Workplace.

August 23, 2016

With over 28 Million Americans having some sort of hearing loss there is a very high chance that every worker will have some degree of impact from hearing loss in the Workplace.

Hearing Loss is considered to be the fastest growing disability not only in North America but in the world! In North America approximately 1 in 10 people have some degree of hearing loss and the older we get the higher that statistic becomes, rising to 50% in people 65 and over. Let’s examine the top 10 hearing related things that you should be aware of in the Workplace.

1. Fire or other emergency warnings.Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 1.06.39 PM

As most business or job sites rely on audible warning signs for emergency situations such as Fire warnings any worker that has hearing impairment could be at risk of not hearing emergency warning signals. Not only could this affect the hearing impaired worker but also anyone who now needs to take on that role of making sure all workers have been alerted. Understanding the high percentage of hearing impaired workers or even workers wearing hearing protection devices that impair their hearing while at work should prompt Business Owners and Employers to also have sight warning signals such as red flashing lights situated in areas and ways that workers can see them while on the job

2. Communication and understanding instructions given.

For safety again and also being able to complete the job correctly being able to communicate effectively is of highest importance. Many hearing impaired workers or those wearing hearing protection devices will not be able to hear certain frequencies of sound. This may give the worker the illusion that he has heard what has been communicated but if they have missed out on certain frequencies such as high pitched or soft sounds they may also miss out on some crucial words or conversations and therefore not fully understand or misunderstand instructions or communication with co-workers or supervisors. Learn more about superior hearing protection while enabling workers to communicate clearly with each other.

3. Increased stress levels with increased sound.

For many workers high frequencies of sound or even bombardment of many types of soundsScreen Shot 2016-08-23 at 1.06.56 PMcan dramatically increase their stress levels. Employers should be aware of the impact sound can have on certain employees and offer some sound reducing or sound barrier settings to enable workers to work in a less stressful environment where they can better concentrate and be more productive. Workers under increased stress have higher sick time, are often less productive and have higher risk of accidents or work related injuries.

4. Loss of qualified workers.

With the increase in hearing loss as people age the workplace may be affected by workers either retiring early due to hearing loss or employers may be demoting or not realizing their employees true potential as poorer communication and lack of understanding due to hearing impairment affect their employees work negatively.

5. Increased Workers Compensation or Insurance Claims.

With hearing loss increasing along with the age of workers, the chance of Workers
Compensation Claims or Insurance Claims also increases as hearing loss may well be due to concerns in the workplace. Learn more about Cost & Compliance. 

6. Increased work related accidents.

The incidence of work related accidents may rise with increased stress amongst workers or increased hearing impairment that can be a contributing factor to workplace injuries.

7. Decreased workplace effectiveness.

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 1.04.41 PMSome jobs require a high level of hearing capability in order to correctly perform the job. For example hearing a certain noise from machinery or equipment can notify the worker how to best use the equipment. Shifting a gear shift or knowing when a piece of machinery is in need of repair can often be noise induced warnings that a hearing impaired worker or a worker with noise blocking hearing protection devices may not hear.

8. Alienation of co-workers or workplace discrimination or harassment.

Often a hearing impaired person becomes more withdrawn as communication becomes moreHearing lossdifficult or less enjoyable. There may also be a misunderstanding that someone is not smart enough to understand directions or communication when it may be the person simply has not properly heard. This can all lead to more stress in the workplace if alienation, discrimination or harassment become a part of the workplace.

9. Hearing test screening.

To diminish the concerns of hearing impairment negatively affecting the employees work, Business Owners and Employers should recognize the importance of on-the-job hearing test screening. Not only for the workplace that is noise producing but also as a screening tool for every company to improve their workers performance and contentment in the workplace. It also shows corporate caring and fosters Employers respect for their Employees and Employees respect for their Employers. Learn more about Training and Fit testing. 

10. Promoting awareness of hearing loss concerns.

The more awareness of hearing loss that is promoted within the workplace will also spill out into the community so that people can take action to protect their hearing and prevent hearing loss or further hearing loss. If our workplaces can bring awareness into the lives of millions of people this could be a tremendous turning point to lessen the statistics of increasing hearing loss as we age. The impact globally can be exciting! Learn more about Hearing Conservation. 

Let’s all work together to impact the workplaces of the world!



Are Noisy Workplaces Creating More Stress For Workers?

August 9, 2016

Are Noisy Workplaces Creating More Stress For Workers?

In our North American “stressed out” society are noisy workplaces creating more stress for workers spending large portions of their day exposed to high levels of noise? Nearly 30 – 50 Million Americans are exposed to dangerously high levels of workplace noise, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication disorders, NIDCD.
Stressed out employees

Cara James, executive director of the American Tinnitus Association states that “Workplace noise exposure is a growing national health issue that seriously jeopardizes the long-term well-being of workers and the overall productivity of businesses”

 The American Institute of Stress (AIS) states that “Job stress is costly: Job Stress carries a price tag for U.S. industry estimated at over $300 billion annually as a result of:

  • Accidents
  • Absenteeism
  • Employee turnover
  • Diminished productivity
  • Direct medical, legal and insurance costs
  • Workers compensation awards as well as tort and FELA judgments” 1

Stress including noise stress is individual and workers will react differently to similar workplace stress.

Recognizing that different people will have different tolerance levels for noise helps guide both the worker and the employer to go above and beyond the currently set standards for noise protection. The NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)’s daily permissible noise level exposure ranges from 8 hours per day at a sound level exposure of 85dBA to 0.25 or less hours per day at 100dBA sound level exposure. These are guidelines for permissible levels affecting noise related hearing loss. How would the added stress related concerns of noise exposure impact the workers overall health?

Noise protection for workers benefits both the employer and the employee.

Both employers and employees should recognize the importance of noise protection within the work environment. Not only would workers be more productive, be less exposed to accidents and hearing loss concerns but less noise induced stress would contribute to more employee satisfaction on the job with less employee turnover.

Responsibility for protecting workers from high levels of noise is not only beneficial to employers from a legal perspective but also beneficial for increased satisfaction of workers in the work environment and increased productivity for the company. Providing proper screening for hearing loss and access to hearing protection devices personally suited for individual workers has powerfully positive benefits.

Workers can also take responsibility by being aware and taking steps to protect themselves from the stress and damaging affects of dangerous levels of noise. Ensure that you are using hearing protection devices that are best suited to your work environment, comfortable for you to wear and protective not only for your hearing protection but also for the degree of noise stress that you are personally able to work in.

Hearing protection for both noise induced hearing loss and stress reduction is a benefit of far reaching implications providing wins for both employers and employees!



Hearing protectors help combat hearing loss, improve compliance

January 8, 2016

Hearing protectors help combat hearing loss, improve compliance

Effective hearing protection should be comfortable, effective, and yet still enable people to talk to one another.

Custom Protect Ear’s hearing protection devices are made of a medical-grade silicone, and Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 8.28.54 AMthey are designed to be soft and flexible. The advantage of the softer devices is better comfort and function. They change shape slightly as the wearer ’s ear canal changes shape when talking or chew ing, thereby continuing to seal during those activities.

Greater comfort addresses a significant problem facing health and safety managers who oversee hearing loss prevention programs: getting people to wear hearing protection products and policing their use.

Including a filter and vent in custom ear protectors like Custom Protect Ear ’s can make speech more understandable by reducing attenuation at higher speech frequencies. This allows them to be left in while talking, and isn’t possible with typical solid foam earplugs.

Click here to Read Full Article


International Ear Care Day: ProtectEar

March 3, 2015

Ear Care Hearing loss

What is International Ear Care Day?

It’s an initiative of The World Health Organization to focus attention on the damage we are doing to our ears.

Let me pose a question.

What would be the government’s response to 1/3 of a population coming down with the same disease?

  • 2 million people in New York develop the flu.
  • 5 million people in Southern California develop Chicken Pox or Measles.

The response would most certainly be swift and decisive.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Did you know that 1/3 of the people working in noise have a workplace illness called Noise Induced Hearing Loss. Now it is not exactly the same as acquiring a deafness illness, however the damage is done because the onset of their hearing loss has taken place over many years; whereas in the scenarios I sighted above the onset of the disease is more immediate.

Many of us wonder how did this happen?

For years hearing professionals have been trying to determine why people suffer from hearing loss. We certainly know these industrial sites and noises can be loud and damaging. Not only do we routinely measure how loud they are, we also measure how much of that loudness workers are exposed to. So we know the danger. We also have devices and processes to do something about that danger.

For example, there are companies capable of engineering the noise out of facilities. How prevalent is that? United Technologies recently won the prestigious Safe-in-Sound award from NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, a Branch of the Center for Disease Control) and The National Hearing Conservation Association for removing enough noise from their workplaces to move 80% of their noise exposed workers (8,000 people) from their hearing conservation programs world wide. We are also educated in ways to protect our hearing when exposed to noise.

Hearing Loss – A bigger problem

Hearing protection devices have been around since the 1930’s with companies like Honeywell, 3M, and Custom Protect Ear committed to finding better ways to make hearing protection. So what’s the problem?

Let’s start with engineering the noise out of facilities. A recent pole of Canadian companies suggested that about 10% of them measure the noise exposure of their workers. That does not mean they don’t know what noise levels they have; they do. (The difference between noise level and noise exposure is how much time the worker spends in what level of noise). It’s the amount of noise a worker is exposed to over a given time that the company has to control; but many companies don’t know what that is. Protecting their workers based on the noise level rather than noise exposure usually means that in most cases you’re actually over protective. This is based on the assumption that someone who works in 95 decibels of noise seldom is in the noise for 8 hours, without breaks.

Then where’s the problem?

The following contains some conjecture unproven, as yet, by independent study

Most organizations will provide their workers with hearing protectors sufficient to protect their hearing from the noise they are exposed to. Some of the workers will use it properly and some don’t. To understand why, we need to look at the human condition. Dr. Barry Blesser states that since man first descended from the trees, it is our hearing that has been our primary safety sense. Hearing can detect dangers we can’t see. Unlike other senses, the ears are fully functional when the human is born; the rushing waterfall hidden by the trees, a large animal crashing through the undergrowth, a charging wildebeest coming around a rock are audible before they are visible. It is possible we are genetically wired to rely on our ears to keep us safe.

The one thing we can assume about places with loud noises is that something dangerous is making that noise. Then to protect our hearing from that loud noise we usually render them partly or fully non-functional by plugging them. At this point I need to point out that Custom Protect Ear’s dB Blockers are hearing enabled. They don’t block as much as manage the noise to the ear to a safe level. Given our human propensity to keep safe, especially in loud threatening noise, is it any wonder workers choose safety for the whole human over safety for their ears? Often they disable the full protection the hearing protection device offers. I think it’s to keep safe.

As I said, this has yet to be conclusively proven by independent study but the fact remains that workers routinely don’t leave their earplugs fully in place when exposed to noise. What’s the solution? AEar Care Hearing loss recent roundtable at the National Hearing Conservation Association Annual Conference in New Orleans agreed that we need to know the answers to the question of Why workers disable their protection. Until we do, we should provide workers with hearing enabled devices, with effective education as to their use, and the dangers of not using it. We owe it to them. Especially on International Ear Care Day.

Jeffrey Goldberg | President
Custom Protect Ear