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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Staying Energized and Increasing Productivity on the Job

The ExxonMobil oil spill, Three Mile Island accident, Challenger Explosion, and Chernobyl were all disasters in their own right. They have each been studied extensively to isolate what caused them, and it’s been found there are many factors that worked together to cause these events to occur. What’s interesting is that one factor, in particular, was common among all of these crises—and it’s a factor that impacts every work site operating today: sleep deprivation.

Without the enough sleep, a worker becomes slower to react to hazards, sluggish in completing work, and more likely to make mistakes. These employees are up to 70 percent more likely to be involved in an accident while on the job. And although each individual is responsible for his or her own sleep schedule, it’s your company’s responsibility to ensure that workers remain safe on the job—whether that takes diligent observation, extra training, or regular drills and inspections. Now, especially with the dog days of winter upon us, you’re going to need more than personal protective equipment to maintain a safe, productive, and non-drowsy work site. Keep your workforce well rested, energized, and ultimately safer with our three tips for avoiding drowsy workplace disasters.

1. Stay Hydrated

More than a summertime problem, workers without enough fluids in their system become lethargic and irritable. They may not even recognize that they are dehydrated because the body’s thirst sensation decreases by about 40% in cold weather conditions. Not only does staying hydrated keep energy levels high during the day, thus increasing productivity, but it also promotes better sleep at night. A study published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS) found that as subjects increased their liquid intake, especially in the hours before going to bed, they were more positive, satisfied, and calm. Encourage your leadership to implement a wellness program that provides education about healthy sleeping and hydration habits.

2. Avoid Sugar

Another part of that wellness program could include education about healthy eating habits and the effects of eating sugar. Many people don’t know that the effects of a “sugar rush” will last only for a short time, usually just 30 minutes. Then, they crash, leaving them feeling even more sluggish than before. A zombie-like crew isn’t one you want working in any environment, especially an extreme one. If possible, provide more low-sugar snacks, such as trail mix, whole grain cereal bars, and fruit with peanut butter packs, in the vending machines and lunch areas.

3. Get Some Fresh Air

If your crew isn’t already working outside, allowing them to step out for a breath of fresh air on their breaks can be really invigorating. The increased oxygen and vitamin D are good for both short-term and long-term health, helping your crew to stay healthy and alert on the job. The fresh air helps to clear the lungs, which in turn increases oxygen intake and flow to vital regions of the body such as the brain and heart. It also strengthens white blood cells whose job it is to fight off disease. Increasing productivity and general workforce health, an outdoor break is worth the extra minute or two it might take.

Bonus Tip: Provide Top Quality Safety Gear

Even when at their best, the most energized, well-rested crews can still have accidents. Always ensure that your gear is up to par by replacing old and damaged safety gear regularly. US Standard Products, a nation-wide provider of quality operational and safety products, has the personal protection equipment that you need to keep your employees safe. Call 1-844-877-1700 today to learn how we can help you get the right equipment at the right price.

Keep up with the latest industrial workplace trends by following US Standard Products on social media.

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U.S. Standard Products is an industrial supplies distributor based in New Jersey. We provide a wide range of operational and safety necessities including ice melt, work gloves, and much more. To stay up-to-date on the latest workplace safety news and trends, follow U.S. Standard Products on social media:

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