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Hearing Protection

hearing-protectionTwenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. Last year, U.S. business paid more than $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting workers from noise. While it’s impossible to put a number to the human toll of hearing loss, an estimated $242 million is spent annually on workers’ compensation for hearing loss disability.

Exposure to loud noise kills the nerve endings in the inner ear. More exposure will result in more dead nerve endings. The result is permanent hearing loss that cannot be corrected by surgery or medicine.

Short-term exposure to loud noise can also cause a temporary change in hearing or a ringing in your ears called tinnitus. These short-term problems may go away within a few minutes or hours after leaving the noisy area. However, repeated exposures to loud noise can lead to permanent tinnitus, hearing loss, or both.

Noise-induced hearing loss limits your ability to hear high frequency sounds and understand speech, which seriously impairs your ability to communicate. Hearing aids may help, but they do not restore your hearing to normal.

Hearing loss is pervasive. It is also preventable.

How does the ear work?

When sound waves enter the outer ear, the vibrations impact the ear drum and are transmitted to the middle and inner ear. In the middle ear three small bones called the malleus (or hammer), the incus (or anvil), and the stapes (or stirrup) amplify and transmit the vibrations generated by the sound to the inner ear. The inner ear contains a snail-like structure called the cochlea which is filled with fluid and lined with cells with very fine hairs. These microscopic hairs move with the vibrations and convert the sound waves into nerve impulses–the result is the sound we hear.

Exposure to loud noise can destroy these hair cells and cause hearing loss!

What are the warning signs that your workplace may be too noisy?

Noise may be a problem in your workplace if:

  • You hear ringing or humming in your ears when you leave work.
  • You have to shout to be heard by a coworker an arm’s length away.
  • You experience temporary hearing loss when leaving work.
How loud is too loud?

Noise is measured in units of sound pressure levels called decibels, named after Alexander Graham Bell, using A-weighted sound levels (dBA). The A-weighted sound levels closely match the perception of loudness by the human ear. Decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale which means that a small change in the number of decibels results in a huge change in the amount of noise and the potential damage to a person’s hearing.

OSHA sets legal limits on noise exposure in the workplace. These limits are based on a worker’s time weighted average over an 8 hour day. With noise, OSHA’s permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 90 dBA for all workers for an 8 hour day. The OSHA standard uses a 5 dBA exchange rate. This means that when the noise level is increased by 5 dBA, the amount of time a person can be exposed to a certain noise level to receive the same dose is cut in half.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended that all worker exposures to noise should be controlled below a level equivalent to 85 dBA for eight hours to minimize occupational noise induced hearing loss. NIOSH has found that significant noise-induced hearing loss occurs at the exposure levels equivalent to the OSHA PEL based on updated information obtained from literature reviews. NIOSH also recommends a 3 dBA exchange rate so that every increase by 3 dBA doubles the amount of the noise and halves the recommended amount of exposure time.

In 1981, OSHA implemented new requirements to protect all workers in general industry (e.g. the manufacturing and the service sectors) for employers to implement a Hearing Conservation Program where workers are exposed to a time weighted average noise level of 85 dBA or higher over an 8 hour work shift. Hearing Conservation Programs require employers to measure noise levels, provide free annual hearing exams and free hearing protection, provide training, and conduct evaluations of the adequacy of the hearing protectors in use unless changes to tools, equipment and schedules are made so that they are less noisy and worker exposure to noise is less than the 85 dBA.

What can be done to reduce the hazard from noise?

Noise controls are the first line of defense against excessive noise exposure. The use of these controls should aim to reduce the hazardous exposure to the point where the risk to hearing is eliminated or minimized. With the reduction of even a few decibels, the hazard to hearing is reduced, communication is improved, and noise-related annoyance is reduced. There are several ways to control and reduce worker exposure to noise in a workplace.

Engineering controls that reduce sound exposure levels are available and technologically feasible for most noise sources. Engineering controls involve modifying or replacing equipment, or making related physical changes at the noise source or along the transmission path to reduce the noise level at the worker’s ear. In some instances the application of a relatively simple engineering noise control solution reduces the noise hazard to the extent that further requirements of the OSHA Noise standard (e.g., audiometric testing (hearing tests), hearing conservation program, provision of hearing protectors, etc…) are not necessary. Examples of inexpensive, effective engineering controls include some of the following:

  • Choose low-noise tools and machinery (e.g., Buy Quiet Roadmap (NASA)).
  • Maintain and lubricate machinery and equipment (e.g., oil bearings).
  • Place a barrier between the noise source and employee (e.g., sound walls or curtains).
  • Enclose or isolate the noise source.

Administrative controls are changes in the workplace that reduce or eliminate the worker exposure to noise. Examples include:

  • Operating noisy machines during shifts when fewer people are exposed.
  • Limiting the amount of time a person spends at a noise source.
  • Providing quiet areas where workers can gain relief from hazardous noise sources (e.g., construct a sound proof room where workers’ hearing can recover – depending upon their individual noise level and duration of exposure, and time spent in the quiet area).
  • Restricting worker presence to a suitable distance away from noisy equipment.Controlling noise exposure through distance is often an effective, yet simple and inexpensive administrative control. This control may be applicable when workers are present but are not actually working with a noise source or equipment. Increasing the distance between the noise source and the worker, reduces their exposure. In open space, for every doubling of the distance between the source of noise and the worker, the noise is decreased by 6 dBA.

Hearing protection devices (HPDs), such as earmuffs and plugs, are considered an acceptable but less desirable option to control exposures to noise and are generally used during the time necessary to implement engineering or administrative controls, when such controls are not feasible, or when worker’s hearing tests indicate significant hearing damage.

An effective hearing conservation program must be implemented by employers in general industry whenever worker noise exposure is equal to or greater than 85 dBA for an 8 hour exposure or in the construction industry when exposures exceed 90 dBA for an 8 hour exposure. This program strives to prevent initial occupational hearing loss, preserve and protect remaining hearing, and equip workers with the knowledge and hearing protection devices necessary to protect them. Key elements of an effective hearing conservation program include:

  • Workplace noise sampling including personal noise monitoring which identifies which employees are at risk from hazardous levels of noise.
  • Informing workers at risk from hazardous levels of noise exposure of the results of their noise monitoring.
  • Providing affected workers or their authorized representatives with an opportunity to observe any noise measurements conducted.
  • Maintaining a worker audiometric testing program (hearing tests) which is a professional evaluation of the health effects of noise upon individual worker’s hearing.
  • Implementing comprehensive hearing protection follow-up procedures for workers who show a loss of hearing (standard threshold shift) after completing baseline (first) and yearly audiometric testing.
  • Proper selection of hearing protection based upon individual fit and manufacturer’s quality testing indicating the likely protection that they will provide to a properly trained wearer.
  • Evaluate the hearing protectors attenuation and effectiveness for the specific workplace noise.
  • Training and information that ensures the workers are aware of the hazard from excessive noise exposures and how to properly use the protective equipment that has been provided.
  • Data management of and worker access to records regarding monitoring and noise sampling.

Each of these elements is critical to ensure that workers are being protected where noise levels are unable to be reduced below the OSHA required levels.

Source: osha.gov

Lock Out Tag Out

lockoutWhat is hazardous energy?

Energy sources including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other sources in machines and equipment can be hazardous to workers. During the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment, the unexpected startup or release of stored energy can result in serious injury or death to workers.

What are the harmful effects of hazardous energy?

Workers servicing or maintaining machines or equipment may be seriously injured or killed if hazardous energy is not properly controlled. Injuries resulting from the failure to control hazardous energy during maintenance activities can be serious or fatal! Injuries may include electrocution, burns, crushing, cutting, lacerating, amputating, or fracturing body parts, and others.

  • A steam valve is automatically turned on burning workers who are repairing a downstream connection in the piping.
  • A jammed conveyor system suddenly releases, crushing a worker who is trying to clear the jam.
  • Internal wiring on a piece of factory equipment electrically shorts, shocking worker who is repairing the equipment.

Craft workers, electricians, machine operators, and laborers are among the 3 million workers who service equipment routinely and face the greatest risk of injury. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.

What can be done to control hazardous energy?

Failure to control hazardous energy accounts for nearly 10 percent of the serious accidents in many industries. Proper lockout/tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures safeguard workers from hazardous energy releases. OSHA’s Lockout/TagoutFact Sheet* describes the practices and procedures necessary to disable machinery or equipment to prevent hazardous energy release. The OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147) for general industry outlines measures for controlling different types of hazardous energy. The LOTO standard establishes the employer’s responsibility to protect workers from hazardous energy. Employers are also required to train each worker to ensure that they know, understand, and are able to follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy control procedures:

  • Proper lockout/tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures safeguard workers from the release of hazardous energy. The OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147) for general industry, outlines specific action and procedures for addressing and controlling hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment. Employers are also required to train each worker to ensure that they know, understand, and are able to follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy control procedures. Workers must be trained in the purpose and function of the energy control program and have the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage and removal of the energy control devices.
  • All employees who work in an area where energy control procedure(s) are utilized need to be instructed in the purpose and use of the energy control procedure(s), especially prohibition against attempting to restart or reenergize machines or other equipment that are locked or tagged out.
  • All employees who are authorized to lockout machines or equipment and perform the service and maintenance operations need to be trained in recognition of applicable hazardous energy sources in the workplace, the type and magnitude of energy found in the workplace, and the means and methods of isolating and/or controlling the energy.
  • Specific procedures and limitations relating to tagout systems where they are allowed.
  • Retraining of all employees to maintain proficiency or introduce new or changed control methods.

OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout Fact Sheet* describes the practices and procedures necessary to disable machinery or equipment to prevent the release of hazardous energy.

Confined Space

What are confined spaces?
Ventilation hoses provide air and exhaust toxic vapors during confined space entry. A guardrail would also be necessary to protect workers from potential falls.

Many workplaces contain areas that are considered “confined spaces” because while they are not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy. Confined spaces include, but are not limited to, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ductwork, pipelines, etc.

OSHA uses the term “permit-required confined space” (permit space) to describe a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics: contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; contains material that has the potential to engulf an entrant; has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; or contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.

Source: osha.gov

Industrial Signs

signsSafety signs are important facility visuals vital to communicating warnings and other safety information. Our safety sign selection includes signage for: biohazard and hazardous materials, electrical safety, first aid, lockout tagout, machine and equipment, personal protection (PPE) and much more. Many of these signs are OSHA/ANSI compliant allowing you to be properly prepared for safety inspections. Safety signs are bold and bright providing high visibility to critical messages. They are available in many different sizes and materials so that you can find safety signage suitable for your facility.


Electrical Safety Signs

Brady electrical safety signs can be used throughout your facility to identify electrical hazard and high voltage areas. They use bright color to draw attention to vital messages that warn against entry, machine operation and identify buried cables. Electrical safety signs are available in a wide variety of colors, sizes and materials making them suitable for almost any application or facility.

Machine and Equipment Signs

Machine and equipment signs communicate warning messages about the potential dangers of operating machinery and equipment in your facility. These signs remind employees about safety, risks, proper operating instructions and more. Most of these machine and equipment signs are OSHA and ANSI compliant and they are available in a variety of legends and pictograms.

Radiation and Laser signs

Radiation and laser signs can help you comply with OSHA’s regulations for radiation safety and laser warnings. These radiation signs offer messages for radiation danger, microwave warning signs and other radioactive warning safety signs. They can be placed around your facility where radiation and x-ray safety are concerns. Radiation and laser signs are available in a wide variety of sizes, materials and messages to fit just about any appropriate application.

Source: www.bradyid.com

Eye Protection

eye-protection-blogThousands of people are blinded each year from work-related eye injuries that could have been prevented with the proper selection and use of eye and face protection. Eye injuries alone cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and worker compensation.

OSHA requires employers to ensure the safety of all employees in the work environment. Eye and face protection must be provided whenever necessary to protect against chemical, environmental, radiological or mechanical irritants and hazards.

Eye and face protection is addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, longshoring, and the construction industry.

Safety Spectacles

Safety spectacles are intended to shield the wearer’s eyes from impact hazards such as flying fragments, objects, large chips, and particles. Workers are required to use eye safety spectacles with side shields when there is a hazard from flying objects. Non-side shield spectacles are not acceptable eye protection for impact hazards. [29 CFR 1910.133(a)(2) and 29 CFR 1915.153(a)(2)]

The frames of safety spectacles are constructed of metal and/or plastic and can be fitted with either corrective or plano impact-resistant lenses. Side shields may be incorporated into the frames of safety spectacles when needed. Consider each component of safety spectacles when selecting the appropriate device for your workplace.

Safety Goggles

Safety goggles are intended to shield the wearer’s eyes from impact hazards such as flying fragments, objects, large chips, and particles. Goggles fit the face immediately surrounding the eyes and form a protective seal around the eyes. This prevents objects from entering under or around the goggles.

Safety goggles may incorporate prescription lenses mounted behind protective lenses for individuals requiring vision correction. Take time to consider specific lens, frame, and ventilation options when selecting safety goggles.

Face Shields

Face shields are intended to protect the entire face or portions of it from impact hazards such as flying fragments, objects, large chips, and particles. When worn alone, face shields do not protect employees from impact hazards. Use face shields in combination with safety spectacles or goggles, even in the absence of dust or potential splashes, for additional protection beyond that offered by spectacles or goggles alone.

Face shield windows are made with different transparent materials and in varying degrees or levels of thickness. These levels should correspond with specific tasks.

Source: www.osha.gov

Head Protection

Head injuries may be caused by falling or flying objects, or by bumping the head against a fixed object. Protective helmets must do three things:oil-engineers-on-site

  • Resist penetration.
  • Absorb the shock of a blow.
  • Protect against electrical shock.

Head injuries may be prevented by the selection and use of appropriate head protection.


Use Of Head Protection

Potential Hazards:

  • Head trauma due to contact with falling objects
  • Electrical shock or burns due to contact with exposed electrical conductors
  • Various head and neck injuries due to the striking low overhead objects (for example piping, I-beams)

Requirements and Example Solutions:

  • Workers must wear a protective helmet (hard hat) when working in areas where  there is a potential for injury to the head from falling objects. [29 CFR 1915.155(a)(1)]
  • Workers must wear a protective helmet designed to reduce electrical shock hazards where there is potential for electric shock or burns. [29 CFR 1915.155(a)(2)]
  • Wearing a hard hat can reduce the impact from striking low overhead objects.

Selection Criteria

Potential Hazards:

  • Head trauma from falling objects
  • Bumping the head against fixed objects
  • Electric shock and burns from contact with exposed electric conductors
  • Head protection due to use of head protection that does not meet nationally recognized standards

Requirements and Example Solutions:

  • Protective helmets must comply with ANSI Z89.1. [29 CFR 1915.155(b)(1)and (b)(2)]
  • Hard hats are designed to provide protection from impact and penetration hazards caused by falling objects. Hard hats must be worn when working below other workers who are using tools and materials which could fall. [ANSI Z89.1-1986]
  • Hard hats are designed to provide protection from impact and penetration hazards caused by falling objects. Hard hats must be worn when working below other workers who are using tools and materials which could fall. [ANSI Z89.1-1986]
  • Head protection which provides protection from electric shock and burns is also available. [ANSI Z89.1-1986]
    • Class A helmets provide electrical protection from low-voltage conductors (less than 2,200 volts).
    • Class B helmets provide electrical protection from high voltage conductors (less than 20,000 volts).
    • Class C helmets provide only impact and penetration protection and since they are usually made of aluminum, which conducts electricity, that should not be used around electrical hazards.
  • Materials used in helmets must  be water-resistant and slow burning. [ANSI Z89.1-1986]
  • Each helmet must consist of a shell and suspension system (such as a head band). [ANSI Z89.1-1986]
  • Helmets must have suspension systems (such as head bands) that are adjustable to prevent the helmet from falling off the head.  [ANSI Z89.1-1986]
  • Suspension systems must be worn in the correct direction (for example an adjustment strap in the back of head). See Figure 1. [ANSI Z89.1-1986]
  • Helmets and suspension systems (such as head bands) should be inspected daily, maintained as necessary, and replaced promptly when damaged. [ANSI Z89.1-1986]


Source: www.osha.gov

Fall Protection

manFalls are among the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths. Employers must set up the work place to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls.

OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations. In addition, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.

To prevent employees from being injured from falls, employers must:

  • Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).
  • Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
  • Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat or acid or a conveyor belt) employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
  • Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety and harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails.

Types of fall protection and prevention equipment include:

  • Harness, Suspension trauma safety straps,  Life Lines, Fall Limiters, Positioning, Restraint & Body Belts and more.
  • Kits: All-in-one harness kit designed specifically for your industry. Typically includes harness, D-ring and support strap.
  • Ultra grip gloves, slip resistant shoes & hard hats and more.
  • Precaution signs, Man hole guard rail and/or man hole guard rail shield and more.

For Fall Protection Equipment Visit https://www.abcosafety.com/c-34-fall-protection.aspx

Cut Protection Gloves

Cut resistant gloves and sleeves are designed to protect hands from direct contact with sharp objects such as glass and metal. The level of cut resistance provided is a combination of material composition and weight. Performance of a glove can also be affected by coatings applied to the surface which can also offer enhanced grip.Image result for Cut Resistant Gloves osha
Common cut resistant fibers include:
  • HPPE: High performance polyethylene fibers offer maximum strength with minimum weight. HPPE is 10 times stronger than steel by weight as well as 40% stronger than aramid fibers offering a softer, cooler alternative.
  • Aramid: The most common brand name is Kevlar®. It is 5 times stronger than steel and provides great tensile strength. Due to its inherently flame resistant nature it will not melt and offers heat protection up to 320° F based on product design.
  • Spectra: A polyethylene fiber that is 10 times tougher than steel per unit weight offering high cut resistance even when wet. Its low lint and flexible nature make it ideal for use in food processing.
  • Taeki5®: A blended yarn made of Taeki5® , fiberglass and synthetic fibers that delivers high cut resistance without sacrificing dexterity and tactile sensitivity.
  • Blended Shells: The introduction of steel and glass to HPPE and aramid help to significantly increase levels of cut protection while helping maintain comfort and fit.

Source: www.westchesterprotects.com

Heat Stress

Tips on Protecting Yourself in the Sun

  • Cover up. Wear tightly-woven clothing that block out light. Try this test: place your hand between a single layer of the clothing and a light source. If you can see your hand through the fabric, the garment offers little protection
  • Use sunscreen. A sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 blocks 93 percent of UV rays. You want to block both UVA and UVB to guard against skin cancer. Be sure to follow application directions on the bottle.
  • Wear a hat. A wide brim hat (not a baseball cap) is ideal because it protects the neck, ears, eyes, and forehead, nose, and scalp.
  • Wear UV-absorbent shades. Sunglasses don’t have to be expensive, but they should block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation

Protecting Workers in Hot Environments

  • Engineering controls, including general ventilation and spot cooling by local exhaust ventilation at points of high heat production may be helpful.
  • Cooling fans can also reduce heat in hot conditions.
  • Plenty of drinking water — as much as a quart per worker per hour.
  • Train first aid workers to recognize and treat heat stress disorders. Make the names of trained staff known to all workers.
  • Alternating work and rest periods with longer rest periods in a cool area can help workers avoid heat stress.
  • Supervisors should be trained to detect early signs of heat stress and should permit workers to interrupt their work if they are extremely uncomfortable.
  • Acclimatization to the heat through short exposures followed by longer periods of work in the hot environment can reduce heat stress.
  • Employee education is vital so that workers are aware of the need to replace fluids and salt lost through sweat and can recognize dehydration, exhaustion, fainting, heat cramps, salt deficiency, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other heat disorders.

Choosing the Right Glove

Glove Protection

Technology, within the hand protection industry, has lead to specific glove styles for nearly every application. Having the proper hand protection is at the forefront of safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) accounts for 1,080,000 emergency room visits by workers annually. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 110,000 days are spent away from work due to hand and finger lacerations.

Hand protection is critical for the worker as well as the company. With the proper hand protection employers can reduce unnecessary injury to employees, days away from work as well as workers compensation payouts.

Are you and your employees properly protected?

Below are several questions to be considered when choosing a proper glove.

  • What is the application of the glove?
  • What dangers are posed to the hand? Heat, chemical, lacerations,etc
  • What causes glove breakdown throughout the application? Rough surfaces or products, chemical exposure, heat exposure, or sharp objects like blades from machines.
  • How much dexterity is needed? Is a sensitive touch necessary – this will aid in determining the thickness needed.
  • What type of grip, smooth or rough, would best fit the application? Rough grips are best for applications with oily or slick processes.
  • What chemicals are employees exposed too? This will effect the material of the glove as well as the breakthrough time.
  • Does the application expose the employee to a multitude of hazards? Which hazards?
  • How quickly does the glove need to be removed? Is there any risk of arm or wrist injury? This will effect the cuff style as well as length of the glove.
  • What is the length of wear time for the glove?
  • Consult a glove sizing guide to determine glove sizing.

Once you have answered these question you are ready to choose a material as well as a glove style for each respective application and or process.

Find the right glove for your application at http://www.abcosafety.com/c-60-hand-protection.aspx