Workplace Hearing Protection: What to Wear in Your Work Environment

Did you know that 30 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels in the workplace? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s estimated that nearly 125,000 of these workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss due to workplace exposure in the last 12 years.

Exposure to high decibel levels for extended periods of time can cause permanent damage to the ear, which in some cases can’t be corrected with surgery or hearing aids. Other symptoms of high noise exposure include a “stuffed-up” feeling in the ears and a constant ringing, called tinnitus.

To combat this ear damage, OSHA outlines strict requirements for hearing protection in the workplace. In fact, employers are legally required to provide hearing protection to all workers who are exposed to time-weighted average (TWA) sound levels at or above 85 dB for eight continuous hours per day. However, for workers who aren’t continually exposed to high decibel levels, it’s still crucial to wear protection whenever they’re exposed to noises above 85 dB.

Here, we’re taking a look at some of the noisiest industries to work in and providing suggestions on the best hearing protection solutions for each work environment.

Landscaping

Workers in the landscaping industry deal with a lot of noisy tools including lawn mowers, leaf blowers, tractors and more—all of which operate in the 90-100 dB range. Since many landscapers aren’t necessarily supervised on-the-job, or are actually the business owners themselves, it can be easy for them to “get away” with not wearing ear protection. This mindset can be very harmful. Even though the decibel level typically encountered in the landscaping industry is on the lower scale of the danger zone, continued unprotected exposure can lead to chronic hearing problems later in life.

Recommended hearing protection: Landscapers should wear hearing protection that’s most comfortable for them, whether that’s roll down foam earplugs, custom molded devices or a range of other options. As tempting as it may be to stick a pair of ear buds in and listen to music, that will only increase the decibel level and risk of permanent hearing damage.

Construction

Common noise culprits in the construction industry include bulldozers, chainsaws and jackhammers, which operate at 100-110 decibels. It’s critical for construction workers to wear ear protection on top of their regular safety gear when operating loud, heavy machinery.

Recommended hearing protection: Since communication is a key safety component of construction work, we recommend that workers wear noise-cancelling electronic earmuffs—a type of high-tech hearing protection that screens out only noises over 85 dB. Electronic earmuffs allow workers to easily hear lower-decibel sounds, like voices, while blocking out damaging higher noises. For jobs that are less reliant on loud machinery, simple foam earplugs on a cord may be more appropriate.

Emergency Responders + Military

A siren from an ambulance, police car or fire truck can reach up to 120 decibels, but it’s not practical, or necessarily safe, for emergency responders to wear ear protection while they’re driving to an urgent situation. Fortunately, most emergency vehicles are soundproofed, with the siren projected away from the vehicle to minimize the interior decibel level. It’s police officers and military personnel, when practicing shooting at the range, who really should be concerned about noise levels, as a gunshot ranges from 150 to 165 decibels.

Recommended hearing protection: Often, on a shooting range, gunshots happen frequently and unexpectedly. Noise-cancelling electronic earmuffs allow men and women who are practicing to comfortably communicate with others, while ensuring non-stop, reliable protection from the constant high decibel shots.

Ready to equip yourself or your employees with high quality workplace hearing protection? Contact U.S. Standard Products for more information about our available hearing protection products today. Give us a call at (844) 877-1700 or send us an email at info@usstandardproducts.com.

Resources

OSHA Occupational Noise Exposure

CDC Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention

Safety First! Understanding Colors for Safety

For most people, green means “go” and red means “stop”, but for workers in industrial fields, these colors (among others) have unique meanings that relate to safety. These “hazard” colors were not chosen to ‘lighten up’ the workplace; rather, their selection is based upon human psychology and how they work with the lighting within a building.

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have any set standards on color-coding, the organization does offer recommendations. In this blog, we’ll explore what each color in the workplace means and why it was chosen to represent specific safety hazards.

Hazard Colors

Yellow, red and orange are bold colors that are used to stimulate mental excitement; to motivate people, not relax them. These bright colors aren’t easily skimmed over and studies have shown that the color red can physically raise blood pressure. The spiked blood pressure causes the body release cortisol, which makes a person more alert for a short period of time. This phenomenon makes red and other warm, bold colors a great choice for identifying hazards though accident prevention tags.

RED: Standard 1910.145(f) App A of the OSHA Standards states that a “danger” hazard should be red or predominantly red, and that any lettering or symbols should be in a contrasting color. Red is generally used in industrial workplaces to identify danger, fire protection equipment and emergency stops on machines.

YELLOW: “Caution” hazards should be displayed in yellow, with lettering or symbols in a contrasting color. Applications for this color typically include hazards that could result in accidents from slipping, falling, or striking against something.

Yellow is also the standard hazard color for flammable liquid storage cabinets and materials handling equipment, like lift trucks or gantry cranes. Radiation hazard areas or containers are often marked with black and yellow stripes or checkerboard pattern.

ORANGE: The color orange is used to identify “warning” hazards, such as dangerous parts of machines, exposed edges of cutting devices, etc.

“Biological” hazards include anything that could pose a threat to human health, and should be labeled with fluorescent orange or orange-red.

Other Colors

Other colors that may be seen around an industrial workplace include:

BLUE: Blue is used to post non-safety related signs or bulletins. A blue flag can also be used to mark parked cars that are unloading.

GREEN: Green is used to designate the location of first aid and any other safety equipment besides fire safety.

BLACK + WHITE: The combination of black and white, either in stripes or a checkerboard pattern, is used for housekeeping and traffic markings. These stripes are typically seen in walkways to remind workers not to place objects in walkways, preventing tripping accidents.

Color codes can vary depending on the industry—be sure to consult your workplace safety materials for any variations in hazard color standards. For more workplace safety tips, follow U.S. Standard Products on social media!

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Finding the Right Gloves for the Job: Manual Labor and Civic Maintenance Professionals

When it comes to dirty work, not all work gloves are created equal. Depending on what type of job you have within the manual labor or civic maintenance field, you’ll need top quality gloves with special features and materials that offer the appropriate level of protection. We’ve outlined which gloves perform best in which roles and have a few tips on how to find the right style and the right fit.

Cut Protection Gloves

Cut protection gloves are designed to provide protection from excessive abrasion and exposure to sharp objects. These types of protective gloves are categorized by a Cut Protection Performance Test (CPPT) and provide reinforced palm and 360-degree protection. The CPPT levels range from 0-5, but most people select gloves with level 2 or 3. CPPT Level 2 gloves are ideal for professionals in construction, auto repair, landscaping, power tools, assembly, and equipment handling. CPPT Level 3 gloves are ideal for professionals in rigging, pipefitting, oil field maintenance, heavy construction, demolition, manufacturing, mining and fabrication.

Leading material technologies for cut protection include Kevlar® and Dyneema®. Kevlar® is a synthetic aramid fiber that provides a comfortable strength to weight ratio and is five times stronger than steel. Dyneema® is a made from ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene and is 15 times stronger than steel. Alycoreis one of the most cut and puncture resistant materials out there and also offers a high level of flexibility.

Impact Protection Gloves

Impact protection gloves are designed to provide protection from excessive vibrations and stress to the hands. The glove structure focuses on reinforcing protection on the knuckles, the back of the hand and the fingertips. These types of protective gloves are ideal for professionals in construction, heavy equipment operation and metal fabricating.

There are a variety of modern materials found in impact protection glove designs. Zoombang® technology uses a unique energy-dissipating polymer that stiffens in proportion to the energy applied. Clarino® synthetic leather provides the breathability of genuine leather but is lighter and three times stronger.

Multi-Purpose Gloves

Multi-purpose gloves are designed to provide protection from environmental factors, grip, dexterity, and often, high-visibility. These types of protective gloves come in a wide variety and are ideal for professionals in emergency response, law enforcement, lawn and tree services, road construction, railroad, airport, sanitation, municipal utilities, rigging, pipe fitting, oil field maintenance, heavy construction, demolition, manufacturing, mining and fabrication.

Popular materials found in multi-purpose gloves include nylon, foam, terry cloth, silicone and TPR (Thermoplastic Rubber). Common features include multi-layer construction, adjustable wrist, insulated styles, thermal protection, high-visibility and silicone grip. Some gloves even build copper fibers into the fingertips to make them touch-screen friendly.

Balancing Durability and Flexibility Features

With so many styles and materials available, the options can be overwhelming. Especially when it comes to buying multi-purpose gloves, it’s important to consider how much strength and give you need in order to make the right choice. Start by deciding which feature is most important to you: durability or flexibility.

If durability is more important, narrow down your selection to top quality gloves with a basic exoskeleton, then search for features that provide added comfort like “breathable fourchettes”, “mesh padding” and “vented finger side panel”. If flexibility is more important, choose a non-exoskeleton style with added features like “palm and fingertips dipped”, “shell”, “coated” and “foam padding”.

Finding the Perfect Fit

Start by measuring the circumference of your dominant hand by pulling a body measuring tape around your palm, just above your thumb. Measure three times to make sure you have the correct calculation before you select your size.

Men’s sizing:

  • 7 in. (XS)
  • 5-8 in. (S)
  • 5-9 in. (M)
  • 5-10 in. (L)
  • 5-11 in. (XL)
  • 11+ in. (XXL)

Women’s sizing:

  • 6 in. (XS)
  • 5 in. (S)
  • 7 in. (M)
  • 5 in. (L)
  • 8 in. (XL)
  • 8+ in. (XXL)

If your gloves have adjustable wrist bands, make sure you pull them snug enough to prevent any material or debris from getting in, but loose enough that you don’t cut off circulation. If you can force one pinky finger between your wrist and the band, you’re good to go.

US Standard Products has a wide selection of top quality gloves that provide safer and smarter protection for Manual Labor and Civic Maintenance Professionals. Visit our website and download our free catalogue to start exploring your options. See all the other ways US Standard Products is making your world a better place by visiting us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Five Ways to Amp Up Sidewalk Safety This Winter

Did you know that in most states across the country, the owner of the building is responsible for the safety of the people who use their parking lot AND sidewalks? It’s a potential legal and financial liability that’s important to address. Not to mention the productivity that’s lost if one of your key staff members suffers a slip and fall that takes them off duty for a few weeks (or months!)

Here are a few things you, as a property owner, should do to make sure you’re ready when the snow and ice start to fall.

Set Up Your Snow Patrol

Meet with your team and select some individuals to keep an eye on the snow and ice situation. Have a meeting and review what happened in the previous year, so you can properly plan for this year. Assign someone to mark areas that were hazardous last winter, so you can give them extra attention this year. Have someone else vet snow removal services, so you can select the one that has the best prices, strongest references and appropriate insurance coverage. Working as a team ensures that no one person has to handle it all and you don’t miss something that’s critical to the safety of your staff.

Get Your Services and Supplies Set Up Early

Winter can sneak up on you and if you don’t prepare ahead of time, you may find that the snow removal services have all filled their calendars or you can’t get the proper ice melt when you need it. Get everything set up now so you don’t run into an “out of stock” or “we’re booked solid” situation later in the season.

Watch the Weather

Paying attention to the weather conditions – by monitoring the weather channel or setting up weather alerts to come to your smart phone – can help you ensure that you and your maintenance team know far in advance when a storm is coming. Preparing your property early, by putting out ice melt products BEFORE the storm hits, is a good preemptive move.

Choose the Right Ice Melt and Use It Correctly

Ice melt comes in several formulas, typically including some blend of rock salt, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium chloride, acetates and other substances like urea and ammonium sulfate. These formulas vary in price, how well they work at different temperatures, toxicity and their impact on different surfaces like concrete or wood decking. Before purchasing, do your homework to ensure you’re getting a product that will work best for your unique business environment.

Don’t Forget the Details

Small things can make a big difference, like putting containers of ice melt in areas that frequently freeze up. Don’t forget the “Slippery Floor” signs and mats for internal areas that get wet when it snows. And even more importantly, ask your insurance agent to double check your coverage, to make sure you’re in the clear if someone does have a slip and fall on your property, in spite of your best intentions.

Don’t wait! Get started today. We can provide you with a wide range of ice melt product, for starters. Check out our catalog today!