Can workers protect their hearing and stay alert to workplace hazards? Yes, they can, with the proper hearing protection equipment, safety training and situational-awareness.
Pilots, soldiers, and police officers know how important situational awareness is to their survival on the job. But from a general health and safety perspective, it has a more universal application One Occupational Safety online piece describes it this way:
"(S)ituational awareness means being aware of the surrounding conditions in your immediate work area and recognizing and dealing with unsafe work conditions before they become an issue…"
The past ten years have presented some drastic changes within the 2-way industry. The advancement of digital radio portfolios such as Motorola’s MotoTRBO, Kenwood’s NexEdge, and other DMR vendors have given additional value to radio users in commercial and industrial organizations. These integrated solutions and applications for voice and data while increasing capacity and providing digital clarity.
In addition to these benefits, the past months have shown an increased movement towards safety compliance and awareness within 2-way radio vendors and accessory partners like Sensear.
About 22 million people a year are exposed to potentially hazardous noise levels on the job. That attention-getting statistic was reported in an April 2013 article in The Hearing Journal. OSHA's concern in this area got one Texas limestone fabricator's attention. On September 11, 2014, OSHA laid some heavy fines because the employer failed to list the warning signs emitted by the noisy machinery on their shop floor.
Workplace hearing protection programs typically focus on individuals with normal hearing. But what about workers who already suffer from some level of hearing loss? Even in quiet environments, workers with hearing loss face a number of challenges, including difficulty communicating with colleagues and problems with differentiating important sounds above background noises.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) an average of 22 million workers in the United States are exposed to dangerous levels of noise in the workplace. Considering that approximately $242 million is spent each year on workers’ compensation for disability due to hearing loss, it is imperative that companies take a proactive approach to preventing hearing problems. Ongoing exposure to noise levels that exceed 85 dB is able to cause substantial hearing damage. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recommends that workers are not exposed to noise levels that exceed 85 dB for extended periods of time.
Every year, people around the world invest time in creating a list of New Year’s resolutions they hope to keep. In fact, about half of adults in the United States make them, according to IFLScience.com. The troubling thing is that only about 10% end up keeping them longer than a few months.
By this time, you’ve probably read quite a few of these lists stating the top resolutions to reach goals in your personal life, but what about at the workplace? In our line of work, it’s critical that we’re constantly vigilant for new opportunities to protect employees’ hearing safety, and the New Year is a great time to look at common resolutions and use those for inspiration when developing our plans for the coming year.
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) about 30 million people are exposed to noise a year on the job, and it’s been one of the biggest concerns in the US for nearly 3 decades. In fact, there are quite a few high-noise environments where workers are exposed to harmful levels of noise.
While we’re typically used to thinking of mining, power plants and heavy vehicles as key environments, there are other jobs that can damage hearing as well. For example, if you operate a lawn mower, work at a night club, work at an airport on the ground or even as a shooting range marshal, you’re exposing your ears to 107dB of noise—to as high as 140dB.
Since hearing loss occurs at around 85dB, occupational hearing loss is proven to be the responsibility of the employer, it’s important to understand how it happens, the impact it has on workers—and your bottom line, and what you can do about it.
Hearing Protection Rating and OSHA Standards
We’re all aware that noisy workplaces are subject to regular audits and inspection by various agencies that seek to ensure employees are provided with appropriate protection from hazardous environments. In the case of noise hazards, the intention is to remove any likelihood that workers’ hearing will be negatively impacted. OSHA sets the standards that your organization must meet to ensure compliance with noise levels that have been determined to be safe. To provide the best solution for your workers, the challenge you face is threefold: