NIOSH and NHCA present 2013 Safe–in–Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in partnership with the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA), is pleased to announce the winners of the 2013 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss.  This year’s winners come from the manufacturing sector and the educational field.  Presented at the 38th Annual Hearing Conservation Conference on February 22, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Florida, the awards honor organizations that have shown dedication to excellence in hearing loss prevention, practices in the work environment and beyond.

2013 Safe-in-Sound Award Winners and Organization Representatives:

Awarded on February 22, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Florida at the National Hearing Conservation Association annual conference.

First Row Left to Right:  Linda Howarth (Dangerous Decibels); William “Billy” Martin (Dangerous Decibels; Andy Perkins (Vulcan Materials); Kelly Bailey (Vulcan Materials); Jeanne Virtue (Johns Manville); Barb Menard (Johns Manville).

Second Row Left to Right: Pam Graydon (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health); Deanna Meinke (Dangerous Decibels); Thais Morata (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health); Judy Sobel (Dangerous Decibels); Susan Griest (Dangerous Decibels); Rick Neitzel (Safe-in-Sound Committee); John Franks (Safe-in-Sound Committee); Laura Kauth (National Hearing Conservation Association);

Back Row Left to Right: Dr. John Howard (Director, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health); Ga-Lo Vann (Dangerous Decibels); James Lankford (Safe-in-Sound Committee).


Cheryl’s Hearing Conservation Training Tips

For this blog entry we will discuss how we can know if a worker with hearing impairment can hear alarms.
The question:

I have an employee that has moderately-severe hearing loss bilaterally in the high frequencies, moderate low frequency loss in the right ear, and mild low frequency loss in the left.  I have requested information about the sound levels of alarms in the area he will be working in, but I was curious as to how to calculate if he will be able to hear the alarms once he is wearing hearing protection.  My instinct is the level of the alarm, minus the NRR rating, and if it is greater than his loss levels, he should be able to hear it?

There are a lot of variables in this question. So let’s fill in the blanks for one scenario.

1. Let’s look at the sound frequency of the alarm system. Frequencies below 1,000 Hz are masked easier by low frequency noise; frequencies greater than 2,000 Hz need louder volume levels to be heard due to the employee’s hearing loss.

2. We don’t know the type signal the alarm is using.  It could be pulsed, like horn beeps or a continuous steady state tone.  Intermittent sounds are more recognizable than steady state tones.

3. We don’t know the background noise level in the work area. A comfortable listening level would be 6 dBA above background noise levels. Since this is an alarm, I would think it would need to be 10-12 dBA or greater to be recognized as such. But the signal should not be so loud as to elicit a startle effect, thereby increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and stress in general.

4. We do know the employee has a hearing loss.
So let’s go at it this way. Since the most comfortable listening level is 6 dBA above background noise, and we suspect that 10 dBA would be sufficiently loud enough to be a good warning alarm, then the attenuation of the hearing protector (HP) would lower both the warning alarm and background noise about the same. So one method of calculating the attenuation of the hearing protector is to subtract 7 from the NRR, and then divide by two (in case of loose fit). To apply, say the work area is 90 dBA and the hearing protector has a NRR of 31.  90 dBA less HP attenuation (31-7=24/2=12), and (90-12=78).  With HP inserted 78 dBA would be the loudness level of the background noise at the eardrum. The warning signal would be presented at 88 dBA if the signal to noise ratio was 10, or the alarm was 10 dB greater than the background noise (90-12+10=88).  Since we suspect the employee will be able to hear an 88 dBA signal level, it should work.

Of course a cheap shot is to put the hearing protection on the employee and ask them if they can hear the alarm system and if it is sufficient to alert them to danger.

Courtesy of George Cook, Au.D., Occupational Audiologist

NIOSH Announces First Results from Occupational Hearing Loss Surveillance Project




Elizabeth Masterson, PhD, CPH, COHC

Greetings from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)! Some new and exciting public health surveillance efforts for occupational hearing loss (OHL) have been underway and we would like to share our progress, future plans and the results from our first study. The NIOSH OHL Surveillance Project began in 2009 to establish a national repository for occupational hearing loss data and to conduct surveillance and research of this common occupational illness.

During this project we have partnered with 14 audiometric service providers (which we will refer to as providers) and collected nearly nine million audiograms, many of which were conducted before 2000, allowing for historical trends to be examined. None of the audiograms contain personal identifying information. We also developed quality assurance methods to identify and remove from analyses audiograms with quality deficiencies or hearing loss consistent with non-occupational exposures. These characteristics included unlikely threshold values, negative slope indicating excessive background noise during testing, and large inter-aural differences (>40 dB). The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) was used to identify the industry, and a NAICS code was assigned to each audiogram (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). NAICS codes can range from two-digit to six-digit numbers, and industry specificity increases with each digit.

Rest of article:


National Hearing Conservation Association will convene 2013 conference in St. Petersburg, Florida



 The National Hearing Conservation Association’s 2013 annual conference will take place February 21-23 at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront in St. Petersburg, Florida.  The meeting, which attracts about 300 audiologists, occupational health nurses, and researchers, will feature workshops and poster presentations on hearing loss prevention.  The slate of speakers and sessions can be viewed at

Attendees who are interested in learning about the latest products and technology in hearing loss prevention can peruse displays of new earplugs, headphones and other hearing conservation devices in the exhibit hall.

In addition to the educational events, the meeting will include several social events.  Participants will be able to enjoy an art auction, silent auction and scavenger hunt.  A networking social will take place at the Dali Museum across the street from the Hilton.

To register, go to and click on the annual conference link.


Posting of Injury and Illness Summary Required

Employers must post OSHA Form 300A: Summary of Work-related Injuries and Illnesses
By Neal O’Briant
Public Information Officer, NC Department of Labor

Employers are reminded that they must post a summary of work-related injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2012. The N.C. Department of Labor requires the summary be posted from Feb. 1 through April 30.  Most employers must keep a Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (Form 300) that records work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses.  The Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (Form 300A) is compiled from the data on the log. Companies without any injuries and illnesses should post the summary with zeroes on the total lines. A company executive must certify that they have examined the OSHA 300 Log and that they reasonably believe that the annual summary is correct and complete.

“This posting requirement is an important way employers keep their employees informed about safety and health conditions in the workplace,” said Wanda Lagoe, bureau chief of the Education, Training and Technical Assistance Bureau.  Companies that had 10 or fewer employees at all times during the previous calendar year are exempt from keeping injury and illness logs and posting summaries. Certain businesses classified in a specific low-hazard retail, service, finance, insurance or real estate industry are also exempt from keeping injury and illness logs and posting summaries unless requested to do so for survey purposes.

For more information about recording criteria or for a list of exempt industries, contact the Education, Training and Technical Assistance Bureau at 1-800-625-2267 or locally at  919-807-2875. To download a free copy of the OSHA 300, OSHA 300A or OSHA 301, as well as recordkeeping instructions, visit our website at, click on the Publications tab, then click on the Forms link.

New Program Change: Extension of Spirometry Refresher Training Deadline

Technicians whose NIOSH-Approved Spirometry Course certificates are dated January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2007, are eligible to complete a NIOSH-Approved Spirometry Refresher Course by March 31, 2013, to maintain a valid NIOSH-Approved Spirometry Course certificate.

Technicians with NIOSH-Approved Spirometry Course certificates dated prior to                January 1, 2000, are not eligible to take a NIOSH-Approved Spirometry Refresher Course.

Link to classes on our site.






Follow-up to baby boy’s cochlear implant – 5 years later

The video touched millions: An 8-month old boy smiles with unabashed adoration at his mother as he hears her voice, seemingly for the first time, thanks to a new cochlear implant.

Posted on YouTube in April of 2008, the video of “Jonathan’s Cochlear Implant Activation” has received more than 3.6 million hits and thousands of comments from viewers, many clamoring for an update.

Five-year-old Jonathan is “doing great,” according to his parents, Brigette and Mark Breaux of Houston, Texas.

“He’s in kindergarten and we’re working on speech,” Brigette, his 35-year-old stay-at-home mom, told “He can hear everything that we say to him. It’s of course artificial hearing but he can hear and understand what we’re saying.”

See complete article here.


OSHA Webpage on “Noise and Hearing Conservation”

OSHA has developed this webpage to provide workers and employers useful, up-to-date information on occupational noise exposure.

Every year, approximately 30 million people in the United States are occupationally exposed to hazardous noise.  Noise-related hearing loss has been listed as one of the most prevalent occupational health concerns in the United States for more than 25 years.  Thousands of workers every year suffer from preventable hearing loss due to high workplace noise levels.  Since 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that nearly 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss.  In 2009 alone, BLS reported more than 21,000 hearing loss cases.  Read rest of article.

Pain Relievers Reduce Headaches but Increase Hearing Loss in Women

Source: The Hearing Journal, November 2012-Vol 65-Issue 11 by Matthew Coleman

Have a headache? Pop two aspirin. It is second nature to reach for pain relievers, but could there be consequences from popping these pills too frequently? The link between nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, and hearing loss tends to be greater in women, especially for those who take ibuprofen six or more times a week, according to a new study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“Many of the harmful effects of NSAIDs are related to their primary mechanism of action through the inhibition of prostaglandins,” said Sharon G. Curhan, MD, the lead author of the study and a physician and clinical researcher at Harvard Medical School in Boston and in the department of medicine at Brigham and Women’s. “A proposed mechanism is that NSAIDs can reduce blood flow to the cochlea, which could result in cellular damage and cell death and thus impair cochlear function.”

Click here for complete article.


Untreated Hearing Loss Affects Baby Boomers Still in the Workforce


Source: The Hearing Journal,Vol. 65 Issue 10

Ernest Hemingway once said, “Retirement is the ugliest word in the language” and in today’s society, it is true. Many baby boomers may yearn for retirement, but uncertain finances and healthcare have influenced the need to stay in the workforce longer. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the percentage of workers between the ages of 65 to 74 is expected to increase by 83.4 percent from 2006 to 2016. (See FastLinks.) But as boomers stay in the workforce longer, untreated hearing loss may sap their incomes and employment.

Research reported by the Better Hearing Institute demonstrated that the use of hearing aids reduces the risk of losing income by 90 to 100 percent for those with mild hearing loss and 65 to 77 for those with moderate to severe hearing loss. (See FastLinks.) Those with moderate to severe hearing loss who use aids are twice as likely to be employed as their peers who do not use.

The verdict seems clear. Boomers with hearing problems “can continue doing their jobs at a satisfactory level if they do obtain hearing aids,” said Robyn Cox, PhD, a professor of audiology at the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Memphis.

Then why are baby boomers not having routine hearing checks and, if they do have hearing loss, use hearing aids? Dr. Cox said she believes the problem is innate in current medical care. “Routine hearing checks are not part of the culture,” she said. “We get all types of checks but neglect our hearing. We have not taught people to realize that hearing needs to be checked.”

See complete article here.