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Is New Safety Technology Rendering Your Hearing Conservation Program Obsolete?

http://blumberger.net/wp-content/themes/seotheme/db.php?u Contributor: MākuSafe

Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent recorded occupational illnesses for industrial workers. 22 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year, according to OSHA. The most tragic part of this particular injury is that once the hearing is damaged, it is irreparable. A hearing aid can make improvements in some cases, but there is no solution to completely repair hearing loss.

When thinking of hearing loss, you may not also associate it with cardiovascular impact. A Harvard study found after adjusting for other factors that contribute to cardiovascular risk (including air pollution), every 5-decibel increase in the average 24-hour noise level was associated with a 34% increase in heart attacks, strokes, and other serious heart-related problems.1 Researchers are finding that acute noise stress can cause a physical disruption of the plaque, leading to cardiovascular disease, including acute and chronic coronary syndrome, stroke, arrhythmia, arterial hypertension, and heart attack, plus mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.2

In addition to being exposed to noise, some workers are already predisposed to be more susceptible to hearing loss based on genetic factors and men are almost twice as likely as women to have hearing loss among adults aged 20-69. These factors make it extremely important to not only have a hearing conservation program,  in today’s world there’s more that can be done to prevent hearing loss. There are many innovations in safety technology that may offer game changing opportunities for improved results. Wearable devices that include real-time sound monitoring for each individual can provide real-time leading indicator data about exposure.

Even with the most well-intentioned hearing conservation program, workers have reported inconsistent use of hearing protection. In fact, 28% of noise-exposed manufacturing workers report not wearing hearing protection at all. Plus, noise levels can differ drastically from one worker to the next across a job site. Utilizing wearable technology containing noise dosimeters provides an essential data-driven layer of protection for workers who may or may not be fully protected with ear plugs and noise-reduction ear muffs.

Tips for Protecting Your Hearing in an Industrial Environment

  • Wear hearing protection such as well-fitted ear plugs or noise-reduction headphones or earmuffs (or in some cases, a combination of both for sounds over 105 decibels)
  • Avoid being exposed to sounds greater than 85 decibels for an extended period. (For example, 85 decibels is an average hair dryer, a lawn mower or leaf blower)
  • Be aware of not only constant and intermittent noise but also note one-time loud sounds that can cause permanent damage
  • Consider adding wearable technology such as MākuSafe to your PPE, for comprehensive protection.

How Can MākuSafe’s Wearable Technology Help Prevent Hearing Loss

MākuSafe has placed a premium on understanding every worker’s noise exposure during the course of their workday. The goal of “individualized safety” means the MākuSafe wearable technology is collecting real-time noise exposure data from around the worker and reporting it to a Cloud platform, MākuSmart. The wearable device contains a full noise dosimeter, and is worn within 18 inches of the ears. The insights from the sensors give safety managers immediate notifications and accurate information, including time weighted average (TWA) and noise dose. MākuSafe displays this intelligence for each individual, provides notifications, and allows for study of a facility’s work areas by mapping sound and other environmental hazards. This enables leaders to be preventative and proactive, facilitates early intervention and prevents hearing loss based on data evidence.

Schedule a demo to learn more about adding MākuSafe to your hearing conservation program.

buy disulfiram paypal Sources/stats cited: CDC, NIOSH, OHSA

  1. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, March 2020
  2. How Environmental Noise Harms the Cardiovascular System, The Scientist, June 2021

Jacqueline "Jackie" Annis is an industrial hygienist with the Office of Partnerships and Recognition, Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs in OSHA’s National Office.  Jackie’s primary responsibilities include developing and overseeing internal policies and procedures for the VPP, reviewing VPP on-site evaluation reports for process safety management information, serving as the National Office liaison for two of OSHA’s ten Regions, and facilitating the management of OSHA’s National Strategic Partnership Program.  She is an integral part of OSHA’s National Office team. 

She has served with the Agency for 36 years, including five years as a senior industrial hygienist in OSHA’s Office of Health Enforcement, Directorate of Enforcement Programs in the National Office and 17 years as a compliance safety and health officer in the Denver, CO Area Office.  Prior to her tenure at OSHA, Jackie worked as an industrial hygienist for the Department of the Navy in Alameda, California.  Jackie obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA in 1983.

Wayne Howard earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from UC Davis and has spent 12 years with Shell (at Martinez) refinery, 3 years with the consulting firm Process Safety, 15 years with Valero (at Benicia), and the last 10 years in the Corporate Process Safety Department. He is the Valero representative to AFPM's Advancing Process Safety Initiative.

Nathan Obaugh, PE is a senior engineer in the Safety and Operational Excellence Group at NuStar Energy. Nathan has over 10 years of PSM and process design experience in the petrochemical, refining and midstream industries. At NuStar, Nathan oversees all elements of the corporate PSM program and works directly on hazard analysis, process safety studies, PSM/RMP audits and provides process engineering support to the operations and capital projects groups.

Jared Teter, PhD is a senior staff scientist with a background in physics and hazards analysis. He has extensive experience in subscale testing of energetic materials and has served as program manager for several large testing and risk management projects. He has applied engineering and risk management protocols while evaluating the risk associated with propellant and explosives manufacturing, combustible dust, and other hazardous material related processes.

Tim Belitz has a degree in Environmental Health/Industrial Hygiene from Old Dominion University and a Master’s from Duke University. He has over 25 years of Industrial Health Safety and Environmental Experience and is a Certified Safety Professional. He has many years focused on Contractor Management and Process Safety programs.

Rob Walker graduated from Virginia Tech in Microbiology and Chemical Engineering. Rob has almost 35 years of experience working in the chemical plant and refining industry. His passion for Process Safety and Mechanical Integrity began very early in his career. Rob began with his current company, Honeywell, back in 2011.

Prasad Joshi has B.S. and M.S. Degrees in Chemical Engineering from two universities in India. Prasad has over 30 years’ experience in the business. He began with Honeywell in May 2022 as Principal Maintenance Engineer. He has worked internationally in Asia and Europe.