Safe-in-Sound highlighted in OSHA’s August 2013 OSHA Technical Manual (OTM), Section III: Chapter 5 – Noise (APPENDIX G—ALTERNATIVES FOR EVALUATING BENEFITS AND COSTS OF NOISE CONTROL). The manual provides technical information and guidance to Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) who evaluate noise hazards in the workplace. Safe-in-Sound award winners highlighted at the 2014 Workshop by the Institute of Noise Control Engineering and the 2016 report Reducing Employee Noise Exposure in Manufacturing: Best Practices, Innovative Techniques, and the Workplace of the Future. https://inceusa.org/pub/
When you’re deep into the day-to-day work of driving hearing conservation efforts, it’s easy to feel like the work is ‘not done yet’, you’re not ready to apply for the award, there’s still so much to do, etc. Without the encouragement of the external perspective, who reassured us that what we were doing was, in fact, innovative, we would not likely have thought we were ready.
Putting the application together made us pause to look back at our journey, which we rarely take the time to do. The protection of hearing is truly becoming so ingrained in JM’s culture that it’s part of our routine operations and not necessarily something we think to ‘brag’ about. Simply being chosen as a finalist in the selection process was an honor, and it was wonderful to get together as a team to showcase our efforts. During our site visit, I learned about several improvement projects that were not even on my radar screen. This was so gratifying. I believe it confirms that several years of senior management focus on meaningful hearing protection is bearing fruit and that all involved should be very proud of our successes.
Even before we were presented the Safe in Sound award, we felt energized by simply telling our story. I’d highly recommend that all companies putting effort into going beyond compliance in hearing conservation take the time to apply and participate in a site visit if selected.
Sr. Manager, Product Stewardship and Industrial Hygiene
Receiving the Safe-In-Sound Award in 2011 has provided motivation for the team at Shaw Plant WM to seek out additional challenges. The journey to reduce noise levels continues. Plant WM’s noise abatement efforts have expanded to a second department, Neumag Extrusion. Using the “double enclosure” concept that was successful in Filteco extrusion, new enclosures are being installed in Neumag extrusion.
Plant WM’s success has carried over to other Shaw facilities. One example is the ear plug fit verification system implemented at Plant WM. Twenty-seven Shaw facilities now use fit verification as part of their hearing conservation program. Since the beginning of 2011 when we received the Award, more than 2000 Shaw associates have gone through fit verification. The use of fit verification gives us much greater confidence in our hearing protection effectiveness, and has added value to the organization by allowing a given site to “zero in” on the hearing protectors they need for their associates, rather than the old “shotgun” approach.
The award has been a springboard for noise abatement projects across Shaw. The added credibility provided by the Award has given other Shaw plants motivation, support from management, and budgets to introduce noise abatement projects. One example is Shaw’s yarn twisting process, where a project is on-going to design noise treatment for the machine, and reduce noise exposures for hundreds of Associates.
Since the Safe-In-Sound Award, we have leveraged the momentum to continue increasing awareness within our company around hearing conservation. As an example, a new page on the Shaw intranet site dedicated to hearing conservation was launched in October, 2011. It has FAQ’s for Associates, Safety /Training Managers, as well as Occupational Health Nurses.
Shaw’s Hearing Conservation Program is as strong as ever, with a big boost from the Safe-In-Sound Award.
Manager – Industrial Hygiene
Montgomery County (Ohio) Water Services
In 2009, I had the privilege of leading Montgomery County (Ohio) Water Services in the creation of a hearing loss prevention program that received the Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award™ in the Service Sector. That wonderful journey was an extraordinary personal growth experience; also the experience lead to a very positive, sustained safety culture for Water Services which helped protect not only those employees but also benefitted the customers of Water Services (fewer injuries results in lower costs for services).
The results were so very positive that following the receipt of the award I was charged with the establishment and management of a safety program including a hearing loss prevention program for Montgomery County Solid Waste Services. Anyone who has managed safety for such an operation knows what a unique challenge that can pose. That endeavor was both wonderfully challenging and rewarding for all involved. I was able to leverage the success gained in the Water Services endeavor to have the latitude and resources to implement some very creative ideas in creating the Solid Waste Services program with the help of the fantastic employees and management at that organization, too. In the end, all the hard work paid off and a positive hearing loss prevention program featuring some very interesting engineering, administrative and personal protective equipment controls was successfully implemented for that organization. So interesting was the story of that journey that I felt compelled to share it at the 2012 National Hearing Conservation Association Annual Conference. The wonderful feedback received from that experience further inspires me to strive for excellence as well as to help others understand the importance of hearing loss prevention.
The awards facilitate the sharing of leading edge best practices to improve the workplace. Safe-in-Sound Award™ winners are recognized not only for their documented results but also for their leadership. Safety and Health professionals worldwide use the published success stories as real-life, high profile examples. I highly recommend that any organization apply for the Safe in Sound Award; the process itself is its own reward; there are no winners and losers in this process, only winners! I also can't speak highly enough of the annual NHCA Conferences. There organizations can make wonderful contacts, greatly expand their knowledge, glean creative and bold new ideas for their own hearing loss prevention programs, and learn about cutting edge research and technology that will help make a better sounding tomorrow for all of us. Kudos to NIOSH and NHCAs for all their efforts!
Pratt & Whitney and United Technologies: Committed to Quiet
Update by Deanna Meinke, Safe-in-Sound Expert Committee Coordinator
United Technologies, a world leader in high-technology products and services to the global aerospace and building systems has announced an ambitious goal “to eliminate 100 percent of employee noise greater than 85 dBA for an eight-hour time-weighted average” by 2015. In 2009, Pratt & Whitney’s East Hartford CT Facility (a United Technologies Company dedicated to the manufacture and support of aircraft engines, gas turbines and space propulsion systems), was one of the first recipients of the Safe-in-Sound™ Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards. These awards are presented annually by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in partnership with the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA), to honor companies and individuals who have shown their dedication to the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss. The winners of this award are noted for their innovative and excellent hearing loss prevention practices in the work environment.
In 2009, Pratt & Whitney’s East Hartford facility was recognized for their comprehensive approach to hearing loss prevention and an exceptional commitment to noise control. Teams at the plant cataloged manufacturing processes with noise levels above 85 dBA and then prioritized and implemented successful noise reduction projects. Consequently, the risk of noise-induced hearing loss was reduced for employees at the worksite and the need to wear hearing protection and require participation in a hearing conservation program was eliminated for some workers.
Since receiving the Safe-in-Sound™ Award, the East Hartford, CT hearing conservation team has shared their approach and expanded their reach to inspire a broader commitment to reduce noise levels throughout the United Technology Company (UTC). The new noise control initiative is part of a UTC’s 2011-2015 Sustainability Goals see Quiet, Clean & Tobacco-Free Facilities. The driving force behind UTC’s effort is “the belief that our workplaces should be free from all hazards and that the environmental impact of our products, factories and supplies should be minimized and, where possible eliminated.”
NIOSH recommends removing hazardous noise from the workplace whenever possible and using hearing protectors in those situations where dangerous noise exposures have not yet been controlled or eliminated. In addition, “Buy Quiet” and “Design Quiet” programs are encouraged so that purchasers compare the noise emission levels of different models of equipment, and whenever possible, select the quieter model. Through research and the NORA cross-sector program, NIOSH has developed a number of resources to assist workers and employers in reducing noise exposure, purchasing quieter power tools, selecting and fitting the proper kind of hearing protection, and determining hazardous levels of noise. For more information about noise and hearing loss prevention research at NIOSH please visit http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/.
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