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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When to Replace Safety Equipment

There might be more than calendars that need to be replaced in your workplace this January. As an industrial workplace employer, the safety of your workforce falls to you. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is considered the last line of defense for workplace safety. No matter the industry, knowing when to replace safety equipment minimizes failure of worn-out devices and resulting injuries. Here are some ways to know if it’s time to discard the old PPE and bring in some new gear.

Fall Arrest Systems

The number one workplace hazard is fall protection, so it should be at the top of your list when looking at what safety equipment needs replacing. The most important time to inspect a personal fall protection system is after it has been part of a fall event. OSHA guidelines state that these systems should be, “immediately removed from service and shall not be used again for employee protection unless inspected and determined by a competent person to be undamaged and suitable for reuse.”

OSHA-certified inspectors should inspect fall arrest systems yearly. Often, the equipment will have a suggested inspection date instead of an expiration date, as it is no longer required for manufacturers to incorporate one on the label. Any system that fails inspection, “must be withdrawn from service immediately, and should be tagged or marked as unusable, or destroyed,” per OSHA regulations.

Hard Hats

Without a mandated lifespan from OSHA or ANSI, it can be difficult to know when hard hats need replacing. Obviously, if there is visible damage on the exterior or interior, the hard hat needs to be removed from use. Many manufacturers recommend replacing hard hats every five years, regardless of outward appearance, and the interior suspension every 12 months.

A hard hat’s usability also depends on what sort of environment the user is working in. Extreme environments with elements such as increased heat, exposure to chemicals, or sunlight reduce the lifespan of hard hats, making them suitable for only approximately two years before needing replacement.

Shoe Safety

There is one piece of equipment that employees are almost sure to wear home: their shoes or boots. As an employer, the fact that work shoes are worn off-site makes it difficult to ensure that each worker’s footwear is up to snuff. So how do you make sure that what’s being worn complies OSHA and ANSI’s standards?

Regular shoe and boot inspections are a good start. Educating your employees on proper boot maintenance, care, and disposal is another way of ensuring proper protection. Some companies go as far as instituting shoe subsidy programs to encourage workers to replace footwear regularly. Since employees are sometimes responsible for providing their own safety gear, like boots, these subsidy programs ease or erase any potential financial burdens on workers that are associated with having new, appropriate shoes on hand.

Safety Gloves

Different jobs demand different kinds of protection—and that especially applies to hand protection. Once your employees have the right gloves for the job, you’ll also need to ensure that the gloves are in working order before each use.

Start by checking for tears, cuts, holes, or other defects before and after each task. Since gloves can get caught on tools and equipment easily, loose-fitting gloves and gloves with hanging strings should not be worn. Before starting any job, hands and gloves should be clean and dry, and for gloves that may have been contaminated, follow proper disposal procedures. Always keep extra gloves handy for when used ones need replacing.

Protection Provided by US Standard Products

Fully functional safety equipment is the key to keeping your workers well protected. 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 equip your team with the gear necessary to meet OSHA standards.

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

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Stay Safe with this Checklist for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

To reduce workplace accidents and shield workers from potential hazards, it’s important to have a thorough plan for equipping workers with personal protective equipment (PPE).

Without protective equipment plan, employees are at risk of injury and employers could be subject to fines or penalties. OSHA stipulates that employers must pay for personal protective equipment for employees with the exception of prescription safety glasses, safety-toe protective footwear and other equipment or clothing that is personal or worn outside of the job.

To help determine which protective gear is necessary for the job, we’ve prepared a checklist of commonly required personal protective equipment below.

Eye Protection

When thinking about eye protection, it’s important to consider any occupational risk to the eyes or face. Common hazards include dust, liquid or chemical splashes, abrasive particles, sparks or molten metals, and it’s also important to consider comfort and the visibility requirements of the job.

In any situation that involves the hazards above, workers should, at a minimum, have a trustworthy pair of safety glasses, while some jobs may require full face shields or welding helmets. In many instances, certain types and colors of safety glasses can help improve visibility and job performance, so it’s important to consider that as well.

Head & Face Protection

In addition to the eyes, head and face protection is one of the most important areas to consider to prevent significant injuries at the workplace. Generally, a safety helmet is essential in environments where a worker could be struck on the head by a falling or fixed object, if a worker could potentially fall or if they could come into contact with an electrical hazard.

Hearing Protection

Each year, roughly 30 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to hazardous noise levels in the workplace. It’s estimated that about 125,000 workers suffer significant or permanent hearing loss each year while on the job. With these statistics in mind, employers are required to provide hearing protection to workers who are exposed to volume levels at or above 85 decibels for at least eight hours per day. However, even if workplace noises don’t reach 85 decibels, it’s still highly advise to provide hearing protection for workers.

Recommended hearing protection can vary by industry, though we previously outlined some of the best options for hearing protection in various work environments.

Hand Protection

In many professions, hand protection is absolutely essential when working with dangerous machinery or equipment or handling harmful substances or materials. However, there really is no one-size-fits-all glove for protecting the hands, so it’s important to identify the material and type of glove that works best for your industry.

Lucky for you, we’ve previously prepared guides on finding the right gloves for the job. You can find them listed below:

Foot Protection

Finding proper foot protection is essential, though between the protection offered, thickness of the material and the type of sole, it’s important to make the right choice based on your industry and work environment. All workers in laboratory, factory, workshop, construction or outdoor work environments should have enclosed footwear.

In workplaces with chemicals or harmful substances, all footwear should be resistant to hazardous substances. In workshops, construction sites or factory settings, boots with steel caps or increased protection are recommended. 

Skin Protection

Employers aren’t typically required to provide most methods of skin protection (long-sleeve shirts, pants, sunscreen, etc.), though it is still a very important area to consider. Especially in outdoor environments, workplaces with exposure to flames or electricity or environments with hazardous substances and chemicals, employees should have adequate skin protection to ensure they aren’t exposed to potential harm.

To protect your employees from common workplace injuries and accidents, consider all of the areas of protection above and verify that the equipment you are providing is adequate. If you’re in need of safety equipment to protect your team, check out the U.S. Standard Products catalog. We offer a wide range of cost-effective, protective safety gear to help minimize workplace accidents and injuries.

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