National Protect Your Hearing Month

Contributor: Soundtrace

October is National Protect Your Hearing Month, and there’s no better time to evaluate how you’re protecting your team from noise-induced hearing loss.

As safety professionals, it’s our responsibility to lead from the front. We should be asking ourselves every day, “What do I need to do to set my team and employer up for long-term safety and health success?”

National Protect Your Hearing Month is a reminder for us to focus our attention on our employee’s hearing health. Noise is often treated as a second-tier hazard because employee hearing loss is invisible and happens slowly over time.

The first step in protecting your hearing employees is understanding the noise levels. A basic noise survey can be conducted for free by downloading a decibel reading app such as the NIOSH Sound Lever Meter application. If you collect decibel readings over 85db, you may need to do further testing through a professional service or equipment.

Upon results of the professional noise report, you may be required to implement an OSHA-compliant Hearing Conservation Program.

Did you know?

Each hearing protection device has a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) to determine its effectiveness. Keep in mind that the NRR is based on laboratory testing and the actual decibel attenuation for the employee is less than the Noise Reduction Rating number.

How to properly wear hearing protection

Earmuffs: Fully enclose the ears to seal against the head. Adjust the headband so cushions even pressure around the ears.  Pull hair back and out from beneath the cushions.

Earplugs: Slowly roll and compress foam plugs into a very thin cylinder. While compressed, insert plug well into the ear canal. Fitting is easier if you reach around the head to pull the ear outward and upward during insertion.

About the Author

Soundtrace delivers the world’s most advanced employee noise monitoring solution. Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is 100% preventable yet it remains a top occupational injury. Soundtrace’s Patent Pending technology is the frontline defense in protecting employees’ hearing. Soundtrace’s proprietary technology is the first and only solution that takes the guesswork out of traditional sound monitoring methods by providing real-time employee noise exposure data. Visit their website to learn more.

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.