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Posted on: July 18th, 2017 by mobilear

Questions About Hearing Compliance? Check Out Mobilear’s Video!

“OSHA Compliance Through Hearing Testing and Protection,” is a new video presentation created by Sue Zurales, president of Mobilear, Inc. Available through the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association website, this video is designed to educate management, safety personnel and employees on the areas involved in a hearing protection program.

In this informative video, Ms. Zurales outlines the parameters of an effective hearing protection and training program. The topics covered include the five parts of the hearing conservation amendment (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95) regarding employers’ responsibilities to safeguard worker hearing. These areas include:

  • Noise Monitoring
  • Hearing Testing
  • Employee Educational Training
  • Recordkeeping
  • Hearing Protection Devices

Also covered is how to properly wear hearing protection devices, including both ear plugs and ear muffs. It also details what individuals should be aware of to ensure the devices are worn correctly. Please click on the link below.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO

Need to get started with your hearing compliance program? Let Mobilear help. Contact our office at 630-241-0990 or go to our website: www.mobileartesting.com. For more information about the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, please visit: www.ima-net.org.

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Posted on: April 19th, 2017 by mobilear

Ear Plugs or Ear Muffs? Which is Best?

Many employees wonder which hearing protection device (HPD) is best
from the assortment made available to them.  I’m sure you’re frequently
asked which one is the best. Weighing the pros and cons of each device
can be helpful in this determination.

Ear Plugs pros and cons small

Ear Muffs pros and cons small

Assuming your employees work in moderate noise levels, the best HPDs
are the ones your employee will wear and wear correctly. If the employee
prefers the feel of ear muffs over ear plugs, he or she is more likely to wear
that HPD. That said, it’s very important to have a variety of HPDs available
for your employee so he or she can determine which is best for him or her.  

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted on: October 3rd, 2016 by mobilear

What Does the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) Mean?

You’ve probably seen the NOISE REDUCTION RATING (NRR) on the package ear plugs or ear muffs. Have you ever wondered what this number means?nrr-inset

As you read in the previous blog post, noise is measured in decibels. The NRR is a number which predicts the amount of protection a given hearing protector will provide. The higher the NRR, the more protection a user will be provided.

What’s important to realize is that this number is derived from laboratory testing and doesn’t necessarily take into account some of the real life situations that occur with hearing protection users. A significant loss of protection occurs when hearing protection is not worn correctly.

Have you seen employees with the foam plugs barely in the ear canals? If these employees were to bend over, the plug would probably fall to the ground. What about an ear muff user who also is wearing a baseball cap and safety glasses, and has a beard? You can almost put a finger in the gap created between the ear muff and the cap, glasses and beard.

Appendix B of 29 CFR 1910.95 Occupational Noise Exposure; Hearing Conservation Amendment; Final Rule provides formulas to determine the protected noise exposure. Unfortunately, these formulas do not take into account that there’s a good chance the hearing protectors are not going to be worn exactly as they would in the laboratory. In fact, it is noted in the Hearing Conservation Amendment “The employer must remember that calculated attenuation values reflect realistic values only to the extent that the protectors are properly fitted and worn.”

As a result, manufacturers of hearing protectors are recommending the following formula used to assess protected exposure. The formula is presented below with an example:

NRR of hearing protector: 31
dBATWA: 95

Step 1: Subtract 7 from the NRR 31 – 7 = 24
Step 2: Divide this number by 2 24/2 = 12
Step 3: Subtract that number form the dBATWA: 95 – 12 = 83

Using this calculation, the employee’s protected noise exposure would be 83 dBATWA, which is below OSHA’s Action Level of 85 dBA. OSHA states an employee’s protected noise exposure should be 90 dBATWA or less. Since the promulgation of the Hearing Conservation Amendment, research indicates the human ear is likely more sensitive to noise and using 85 dBA dB as the target protected noise exposure would be a more conservative and smarter choice.

Now, let’s say you’re wearing ear plugs and ear muffs together. You don’t simply add those two NRR numbers together. You simply add 5 dB to the higher of the two NRRs. So if the NRR of ear plugs is 30 and the NRR of the ear muffs is 25; add 5 to 30 and use 35 dB as the NRR in the calculation.

NRR of hearing protector with higher NRR: 30
Add 5 for hearing protector with lower NRR: +5
New NRR 35
dBATWA: 95

Step 1: Subtract 7 from the NRR 35 – 7 = 28
Step 2: Divide this number by 2 28/2 = 14
Step 3: Subtract that number form the dBATWA: 95 – 14 = 81

Using this calculation, the employee’s protected noise exposure would be 81 dBATWA.

Overall, hearing protection works as well as the user’s ability to insert them properly and to wear them at all times when in the noise.

Take a walk through the plant to see how hearing protection is being used.

Does it look like this?

ear-image-1

Or more like this?

ear-image-2

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Posted on: January 4th, 2016 by mobilear

Extra Advantages of Implementing a Hearing Conservation Program

Aside from the obvious benefits of protecting employees’ hearing, did you know that hearing conservation programs also provide added health bonuses for employees? Believe it or not, the use of hearing protection devices (HPDs) has also been found to improve employees’ physical health, decrease workplace accidents and reduce absenteeism!

extra-advantages-of-hpds-1According to research conducted in various industrial environments, these “extra-auditory” benefits have been well documented. According to research conducted by Jansen in his 1961 study, Adverse Effects of Noise on Iron and Steel Workers, he examined the health records of 1,005 iron and steel workers in “very noisy” and “less noisy” environments. In the “very noisy” group, he discovered a 5% to 15% higher occurrence of peripheral circulation problems, heart problems and equilibrium disturbance.

Cohen, in his 1976 study, The Influence of a Company Hearing Conservation Program on Extra-Auditory Problems in Workers, compared the pre-HPD program statistics of job injuries, medical problems and absences to those of the post-HPD program.  Studying the data of 434 boiler plant employees who were exposed to high noise levels both before and after the HPD program was implemented, he found there were fewer job injuries and medical issues, and reduced absenteeism.
extra-advantages-of-hpds-2Comparing the injury data of the pre- and post-HPD implementation, Cohen found the use of HPDs actually reduced the number of workplace mishaps. He noted, “This appears to counter the notion that wearing HPDs could increase the likelihood of accidents by attenuating not only noise, but also the audibility of sound signals depicting danger.”

As you can see, hearing protection devices can provide employees with extra benefits including:

  • Reducing the incidence of workplace injuries;
  • Improving overall physical health;
  • Decreased absenteeism.

It makes sense to implement a hearing protection program for your employees to reap these extra benefits.

Images courtesy of Honeywell Inc.

1Jansen, G. (1961), Adverse Effects of Noise on Iron and Steel Workers.