Listen Up! 5 Guidelines to Protect Your Employees’ Hearing

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that about 22 million US employees are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work, making occupational hearing loss one of the most common work-related injuries in the country. With OSHA’s recommended “danger zone” starting at just 85 decibels, chances are that your industrial or construction workplace requires the use of hearing protection.

Common Sounds Measured in DecibelsSource: Chevy Chase ENT

1. Choose the Right Noise Reduction Rating

Having the gear doesn’t help if it isn’t the right quality. If crew members are using earplugs that don’t have the right noise reduction rating (NRR), hearing damage could still occur. Even though most hearing protection products come with a NRR on the packaging, you will still need to ensure your earplugs have the correct rating for the environment. If you’re not sure where to start, the CDC published a helpful guide to calculate and use the correct NRR for your work environment.

2. Keep Communication Lines Open

Protecting your hearing is good, but being able to communicate while working with proper protection in place can be challenging. To ensure clear lines of communication, despite the use of hearing protection, you might consider developing hand signals to help your employees get the message across. Another option is designating a place to step away from the noise and remove hearing protection safely. Digital earmuffs with radio capabilities are also a safe bet. These “walkie-talkie” earmuffs allow communication to continue without having to shut down machinery or move away from the work area.

3. Get Tested

OSHA standard 1910.95 requires employers to provide workers with annual hearing tests. While having an audiometric testing program is mandatory, the benefits of tracking employees’ hearing are worth the expense. Together, the baseline test and the annual test results allow employers to see if their hearing conservation efforts are working. If hearing loss is detected, employers can take follow-up measures to prevent further damage. For additional employer responsibilities, see OSHA’s hearing conservation guide.

4. Know When to Wear

As the old adage goes, knowing is half the battle. Educating employees about hearing protection and when it is necessary is the best way to strengthen your safety culture. Some key points to communicate include when and where to wear hearing protection, which protection to use in different situations, and the lasting damage that results from failing to use the proper protection.

5. Replace When Ready

Worn-out equipment should be thrown away. Following the manufacturer’s care instructions helps to keep the hearing protection working at their best. You’ll know that it’s time to replace earmuffs when the headband is no longer able to keep the muffs snugly against the head. To get the full benefit of the equipment, conduct regular inspections, checking that the earplugs and muffs are still flexible and safe to use.

Stock Up on Gear that Protects the Ears

At US Standard Products’ core, we believe in keeping workers across all industries safe from the dangers of the job, and do so by providing the highest quality operational and safety products. To stay up-to-date on the latest workplace safety news and trends, follow US Standard Products on social media:

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Exploring Safety Equipment for Extreme Environments

As a trade professional, you likely know the ins and outs of safety best practices—the importance of wearing the right gear and having the right protective equipment on hand has probably been drilled into your head since day one. But what about those times when you’re pushed out of your comfort zone? Literally. Throughout the course of your career, you’ll likely encounter extreme scenarios and environments that will call for extreme safety measures. Here we’ve outlined some of those common “extreme” environments and exactly what you’ll need to ensure maximum safety on the job.

Small, Enclosed Spaces

Whether you’re working in a multi-mile tunnel or a small crawlspace under a home, tight, enclosed spaces present a unique set of safety challenges—they’re often dark, have poor ventilation, and pose serious risk in the case of a fire, to name a few. Stay safe in this extreme environment by ensuring you always have a hard hat, safety glasses, protective footwear, a portable hand and/or cap lamp, and a self-rescuer on hand.


From conducting roofing work, to changing a light bulb, to washing windows on a skyscraper, heights are a common factor involved with many jobs. And while all jobs include some fall risk, when you’re working at extreme heights, a fall can lead serious injury, if not death. In additional to traditional PPE gear, the gear needed to work safely at extreme heights might include a harness, anchor, lanyard, deceleration device, and a mechanical prusik.

Extreme Heat or Cold

No matter the temperature, the work still has to get done. When working in extreme heat—whether outdoors or in a sweltering space such as an engine room on a ship, you’ll want to wear moisture-wicking fabrics and drink plenty of water. Here, we put together a guide for working safely in hot weather. In the cold, you’ll want to dress in layers and always wear an insulating hat to retain your body heat. Read more in our cold weather gear guide.

Unsanitary Environments

For some workers, such as waste collectors or sanitation crews, germs and general “yuck” are just part of the daily job. But across all lines of work, you may have to deal with unsanitary environments on occasion, and when that occurs, it’s crucial to have the right protective gear. When dealing with hazardous materials, there are different levels of protection required depending on the risk of exposure. In general, however, you should always wear protective eyewear, a hard hat, and chemical-resistant gloves and boots, and also have a respirator and full body suit on hand.

Order Your Extreme Environment Safety Gear Today

US Standard Products is a nationwide provider of quality operational and safety products. Contact us today at 844-877-1700 to learn how we can help equip you and your team with the proper gear needed to safely work in extreme environments.

To stay up-to-date on the latest workplace safety news and trends, follow US Standard Products on social media:

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How to Ensure Your Workers Stay Safe While Operating Machinery

More than 4,500 fatal injuries occur in the workplace per year. Prevention is key; know your employees are in the safest possible environment when it comes to preventing future machinery mishaps on the job. In this blog, we have compiled some ways to keep your workers safe, including being up-to-date with the lockout/tagout (LOTO) process, knowing what safety gear to have on hand, and understanding what extra precautions to take while operating machinery.

Revisit Your LOTO Procedure Frequently

In 2016, the lock out tag out procedure was specified as one of OSHA’s top 5 workplace hazards. Training workers the steps that are involved in the lockout/tagout procedure is crucial in order to ensure worker safety. To make sure employees both understand and follow the lockout/tagout program include:

  • Conducting weekly, annual, and random inspections. This keeps a routine in place and the constant reminder to keep using the lockout/tagout procedure.
  • Providing quick and easy access to LOTO kits. Lockout/tagout is a procedure that includes locks and tags to warn workers that there is something wrong with a machine or equipment; should not be used until the machine or equipment has been fixed and unlocked or untagged. Having quick and easy access to LOTO kits can make the procedure more efficient.
  • Providing colored tags in lock out tag out kit. Color-coding tags is not required by OSHA but it is a quick and easy way to differentiate warnings and dangers.
  • Encouraging communication between co-workers. It is best to have everyone on the same page; communication is one of the main components to keeping workers safe. Reassuring your workers to have conversations about safety daily can have a positive effect for your employees.

Have the Right Safety Gear on Hand

When it comes to machine safety, you never know what is going to happen on the job. Being prepared with the right safety gear is important regarding safety. Here is a list of essential personal protective equipment to ensure the best protection for your workers as they operate machinery.

  • Protective eyewear
  • Cut-and impact-resistant gloves
  • Steel-toed boots
  • Ear muffs or plugs

Take Extra Safety Precautions

When it comes to working in dangerous conditions, there is no such thing as being too prepared or safe; safety is key. Here are some ways to make sure your workers are getting the best protection:

  • Provide protective safety gear to all workers
  • Have a first aid kit available in case of minor injuries
  • Have machines thoroughly checked before restarting a machine/equipment
  • All employees should stay approximately 30ft away from the machine or equipment that is being worked on or restarted
  • Make sure everyone on site knows the company’s emergency plan

Awareness of potential hazards—from machine malfunctions to slips, trips and falls—helps reduce future injuries and accidents, which can help save lives. Here at US Standard Products, we have what you need to keep your workers safe and protected. Check out our product catalog for quality, affordable safety gear.