On Dec. 4-5, 2013, ASSE’s Virtual Classroom presented Hearing Loss Prevention - An ASSE Webinar TRIPLE Header! Wherein two live webinars and one On-Demand webinar tackled some of the largest issues in hearing loss prevention from the identification of noise hazards to permissible exposure limits to PPE for at-risk workers.
Excessive on-the-job noise is an issue that affects 22 million workers everyday and, in addition to irreversible hearing damage, this excessive noise exposure can interfere with concentration, reduce efficiency, lower worker moral, increase stress and mask warning sounds, says speaker Bernard L. Fontaine, Jr., CIH, CSP, a managing partner of the Windsor Consulting Group Inc.
Fontaine addressed occupational and environmental noise hazards, which can put workers at risk of permanent hearing damage, in the Occupational and Environmental Noise Risk Identification and Assessment to Validate Controls and a Hearing Conservation Program, webinar on Dec. 4.
After providing a detailed explanation of noise, occupational exposure, the ear’s inner workings and the physics of sound, Fontaine discussed noise hazards by job and how to manage these hazards. Noise risk management involves a number of strategies, beginning with understanding how to correctly measure and interpret the level of noise. Once sound levels are recognized, he recommended using the hierarchy of controls to reduce exposure to workers and prevent them from sustained, irreversible hearing loss. Recommendations include the following:
- Buy Quiet Equipment—Look for equipment that makes less noise. Do research, look for attachment options and ask the manufacturer.
- Vibration Pads—Installing vibration pads can absorb shock and reduce noise.
- Barriers—Setting up barriers can muffle a noise by preventing it from traveling.
- Isolation—Isolating noisy equipment will reduce exposure by creating a greater distance between workers and equipment.
- Rotate workers and extend breaks to reduce exposure times
- Maintain or modify equipment/machinery
- Specify noise limit on new equipment
- Post signs and remind employees to use hearing protection
- Report noisy equipment/machinery upper management
- PPE should be suitable for the job
- Ensure hearing device does not interfere with other safety equipment
- Discard disposal ear plugs after use
- Maintain ear muffs and ear channel caps
Watch for future blog posts with additional information from the Hearing Loss Prevention webinar event.