|Vol. 5 / No. 12||
Is your idea of peace and quiet spending a tranquil morning running a chainsaw, mowing the yard, shooting a round of skeet, and attending a rock concert? What did he say?
A lot of employees wear hearing protection 40 hours a week and then do the above on the weekends with no thought of their hearing. Some of us that don’t wear hearing protection at work don’t think of it on the weekends either. Loosing your hearing is like gaining weight it slips up on us a little at a time. And the next thing you know! WOW, what happened?
OR-OSHA Occupational Noise Exposure rules Section 1910.95 (please take time to read this as I have only given the Reader’s Digest version here) require companies to monitor their noise levels and identify workers who are exposed to noise at or above 85 dB averaged over eight working hours.
You must also identify hearing conservation areas, place warning signs, and provide easy access to protection. Hearing conservation programs should be enforced at all times without exception.
Train your employees on how to use hearing protection correctly. A proper fit is vital to any form of hearing protection. If it is not comfortable or does not fit properly they will not wear it. The most costly may not be the best – the best is the one that you are willing to wear all of the time. People seem to understand the need for hearing protection intellectually but not emotionally. There is still the macho factor – noise equals power! Ever had a speaker on wheels pull up along side of you at a stop sign?
OSHA requires testing for hearing loss (Audiometric testing) which monitors the sharpness of hearing clarity, this must be preformed under the supervision of an audiologist or M.D. A baseline audiogram test must be performed within six months of an employee’s first exposure to noise levels at or above 85dB. The required annual audiogram measures any change in hearing ability. You must also keep accurate, long-term records of the results.
You are also required to provide appropriate hearing protection to your employees. This can be confusing with over 200 varieties of disposable and reusable earplugs and earmuffs on the market for industrial use. Remind your employees to ask for something else if your first type of protection is uncomfortable. Keep in mind it takes around two weeks to get used to wearing hearing protection.
A halfhearted effort will not help with hearing loss; it is shown that even brief unprotected periods can have heavy consequences. If your employee who worked eight hours in a 85dB environment goes with out hearing protection for even 30 minutes over the course of the day, the benefit of the protection for the entire day will be cut in half. Their coffee and lunch breaks should be taken in a quieter area.
Noise in the workplace poses safety, health, and productivity risks often overlooked by us in our drive for hearing compliance. If your employee can not communicate with co-workers or hear a warning shouted by others, you need to look at an alternate form of hearing protection.
Explain to your employees that noise-induced hearing loss is similar
to the effect of wearing hearing protection permanently. The
message here is loud and clear. The question is, are you able to
AOI has several new and exciting programs in the works, to add to the existing services of AOI CompSAFE, AOI CompWise, AOI HealthChoice, AOI-EAP (Employee Assistance Program), AT&T Profit By Association Program, Avis Member Discount, Labor Law Manuals, and our new Employment Practices Liability Insurance -- possibly a new instant Drug Test Program that you can do in-house. Who knows what else we will sponsor to serve you better?
SAIF has announced that once again (the ninth year in a row) their rates will be dropping (up to 8%). Which means that you will be starting off a New Year saving money! Not a bad way to start!
The 1999 Legislative Session will soon be under way. Please do not forget that we are here to protect your interest in the new laws that are or are not passed. But we cannot serve your needs if we do not known where you stand. If something come up that you feel will benefit, hurt, or handicap your business, please let us know. The AOI Business Viewpoint will give you an idea of what is going on and who here is guarding the back door.
Our Workplace Traffic Safety Program video will be available in April.
Several seminars are also being planned to keep you updated and informed.
Once again, remember we are a service-oriented organization and not
the “Association of Choice” by accident!
The Risk Management Department of Associated Oregon Services Corporation (AOSC) is here to serve you. Please call if you have any health, safety, or personnel questions or issues. We look forward to serving you. As a member of Associated Oregon Industries, our services are available to you at no additional charge.
Director of Risk Management
Associated Oregon Services Corporation
1149 Court Street NE
Salem OR 97301-4030
Salem Area - 503-588-0050
Portland Area - 503-227-5636
Elsewhere in Oregon - 800-452-7862