When Is An Employer Required To Provide Hearing Protectors?
Employers must provide hearing protectors to all workers exposed to 8-hour TWA noise levels of 85 dB or above. This requirement ensures that employees have access to protectors before they experience any hearing loss.
Employees must wear hearing protectors:
-For any period exceeding 6 months from the time they are first exposed to 8-hour TWA noise levels of 85 dB or above, until they receive their baseline audiograms if these tests are delayed due to mobile test van scheduling;
-If they have incurred standard threshold shifts that demonstrate they are susceptible to noise; and
-If they are exposed to noise over the permissible exposure limit of 90 dB over an 8-hour TWA.
Employers must provide employees with a selection of at least one variety of hearing plug and one variety of hearing muff. Employees should decide, with the help of a person trained to fit hearing protectors, which size and type protector is most suitable for the working environment. The protector selected should be comfortable to wear and offer sufficient protection to prevent hearing loss.
Hearing protectors must adequately reduce the noise level for each employee’s work environment. Most employers use the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that represents the protector’s ability to reduce noise under ideal laboratory conditions. The employer then adjusts the NRR to reflect noise reduction in the actual working environment.
The employer must reevaluate the suitability of the employee’s hearing protector whenever a change in working conditions may make it inadequate. If workplace noise levels increase, employees must give employees more effective protectors. The protector must reduce employee exposures to at least 90 dB and to 85 dB when an STS already has occurred in the worker’s hearing. Employers must show employees how to use and care for their protectors and supervise them on the job to ensure that they continue to wear them correctly.
Hand And Arm Protection
If a workplace hazard assessment reveals that employees face potential injury to hands and arms that cannot be eliminated through engineering and work practice controls, employers must ensure that employees wear appropriate protection. Potential hazards include skin absorption of harmful substances, chemical or thermal burns, electrical dangers, bruises, abrasions, cuts, punctures, fractures and amputations. Protective equipment includes gloves, finger guards and arm coverings or elbow-length gloves.
Employers should explore all possible engineering and work practice controls to eliminate hazards and use PPE to provide additional protection against hazards that cannot be completely eliminated through other means. For example, machine guards may eliminate a hazard. Installing a barrier to prevent workers from placing their hands at the point of contact between a table saw blade and the item being cut is another method.
There are many types of gloves available today to protect against a wide variety of hazards. The nature of the hazard and the operation involved will affect the selection of gloves. The variety of potential occupational hand injuries makes selecting the right pair of gloves challenging. It is essential that employees use gloves specifically designed for the hazards and tasks found in their workplace because gloves designed for one function may not protect against a different function even though they may appear to be an appropriate protective device.
The following are examples of some factors that may influence the selection of protective gloves for a workplace:
-Type of chemicals handled.
-Nature of contact (total immersion, splash, etc.).
-Duration of contact.
-Area requiring protection (hand only, forearm, arm).
-Grip requirements (dry, wet, oily).
-Size and comfort.
Gloves made from a wide variety of materials are designed for many types of -workplace hazards. In general, gloves fall into four groups:
-Gloves made of leather, canvas or metal mesh;
-Fabric and coated fabric gloves;
-Chemical- and liquid-resistant gloves;
-Insulating rubber gloves (See 29 CFR 1910.137 and the following section on electrical protective equipment for detailed requirements on the selection, use and care of insulating rubber gloves).
Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs)
Hearing protection devices (HPDs) are considered the last option to control exposures to noise. HPDs are generally used during the necessary time it takes to implement engineering or administrative controls, or when such controls are not feasible.
Employers must make HPDs available to all employees exposed at or above the action level. These must be provided at no cost to employees and must be replaced as necessary. [29 CFR 1910.95(i)(1)]
Employers must ensure that HPDs are worn by employees:
-where feasible administrative and engineering controls fail to reduce sound levels within those listed in Table G-16. [29 CFR 1910.95(i)(2)(i)] or who are
-exposed at or above the action level [29 CFR 1910.95(i)(2)(ii)] and who have not yet had a baseline audiogram established [29 CFR 1910.95(i)(2)(ii)(A)] or have experienced a standard threshold shift (STS). [29 CFR 1910.95(i)(2)(ii)(B)]
HPD Selection and Use
-Employees must be given the opportunity to select their HPDs from a suitable variety. [29 CFR 1910.95(i)(3)] Generally, this should include a minimum of two devices, representative of at least two different types.
-The employer must provide training in the use and care of all HPDs provided to employees. [29 CFR 1910.95(i)(4)]
-The employer must ensure proper initial fitting of HPDs and supervise their correct use. [29 CFR 1910.95(i)(5)]
-Attenuation refers to the damping or decrease of noise levels as a result of wearing HPDs.
-The employer must evaluate HPD attenuation for the specific noise environments in which the HPD will be used. [29 CFR 1910.95(j)(1)]
-HPDs must attenuate employee exposure to at least an eight hour time-weighted average of 90 dBA. [29 CFR 1910.95(j)(2)]
-For employees who have experienced a standard threshold shift (STS), HPDs must attenuate exposure at or below the action level of 85 dBA-TWA (time-weighted average). [29 CFR 1910.95(j)(3)]
-The adequacy of the HPDs must be re-evaluated whenever employee noise exposures increase to the extent that they may no longer provide adequate attenuation. The employer must provide more effective hearing protectors as necessary. [29 CFR 1910.95(j)(4)]
Hearing Protection Labeling
-Additional information (App IV:D) on the background of hearing protection labeling, Task Force recommended changes, and other relevant publications are available.
As you can imagine, hearing protection devices can be extremely valuable to both employees and employers. Employees remain safe and avoid the potential dangers related to loud noises in the workplace. And employers are able to provide a safe and secure workplace for their employees.
US Standard Shout Out!
We were featured in a blog post at www.seeingallthegood.com! The blog is titled: ‘Gratitude in the Workplace: Why it Matters & How to Institute Gratitude Practices in Your Organization’. We appreciate the kind words from Dr. Colleen Georges, here is the excerpt about us.
‘US Standard Products is another excellent example of a company that values and practices gratitude, with a remarkable commitment to corporate social responsibility. Their company mission is “to provide American industry with the highest quality products available and to give back to the people that most deserve it by supporting those less fortunate individuals and their families with the financial and personal commitment they so richly deserve.” US Standard Products is so grateful and devoted to charitable giving that they donate a portion of company profits to select charitable organizations, dedicate a tab on their website to charitable giving, and readily promote their charitable partners on social media. Furthermore, the company shared with me, “The owner, grateful for the care a gravely ill family member received, now gives back to the organization that helped him cope through a difficult time. Another founder hasn’t forgotten what it was like during the company’s origins and how they struggled to grow the business. He has earmarked a portion of the company’s profits to help others who may be struggling to get on their feet. The founders have also directed a portion of profits to veteran’s groups, showing gratitude to the men and women who ensure the freedom for them to have a business. Showing gratitude is not only the right thing to do, but it sets an example for employees, their families, and customers.”’
You can read the full post at http://www.seeingallthegood.com/seeing-all-the-good-blog/gratitude-in-the-workplace-why-it-matters-how-to-institute-gratitude-practices-in-your-organization
Workplace Eye Safety
Each day about 2000 U.S. workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. About one third of the injuries are treated in hospital emergency departments and more than 100 of these injuries result in one or more days of lost work. The majority of these injuries result from small particles or objects striking or abrading the eye. Examples include metal slivers, wood chips, dust, and cement chips that are ejected by tools, wind blown, or fall from above a worker. Some of these objects, such as nails, staples, or slivers of wood or metal penetrate the eyeball and result in a permanent loss of vision. Large objects may also strike the eye/face, or a worker may run into an object causing blunt force trauma to the eyeball or eye socket. Chemical burns to one or both eyes from splashes of industrial chemicals or cleaning products are common. Thermal burns to the eye occur as well. Among welders, their assistants, and nearby workers, UV radiation burns (welder’s flash) routinely damage workers’ eyes and surrounding tissue.
In addition to common eye injuries, health care workers, laboratory staff, janitorial workers, animal handlers, and other workers may be at risk of acquiring infectious diseases via ocular exposure. Infectious diseases can be transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eye as a result of direct exposure (e.g., blood splashes, respiratory droplets generated during coughing or suctioning) or from touching the eyes with contaminated fingers or other objects. The infections may result in relatively minor conjunctivitis or reddening/soreness of the eye or in a life threatening disease such as HIV, B virus, or possibly even avian influenza.
Engineering controls should be used to reduce eye injuries and to protect against ocular infection exposures. Personal protective eyewear, such as goggles, face shields, safety glasses, or full face respirators must also be used when an eye hazard exists. The eye protection chosen for specific work situations depends upon the nature and extent of the hazard, the circumstances of exposure, other protective equipment used, and personal vision needs. Eye protection should be fit to an individual or adjustable to provide appropriate coverage. It should be comfortable and allow for sufficient peripheral vision. Selection of protective eyewear appropriate for a given task should be made based on a hazard assessment of each activity, including regulatory requirements when applicable.
Eye And Face Protection In The Workplace
Thousands 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.
How to find out about employer responsibilities and worker rights:
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or worker rights.
OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to OSHA’s Regional & Area Offices webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Small business employers may contact OSHA’s free and confidential on-site consultation service to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites and work with OSHA on correcting any identified hazards. On-site consultation services are separate from enforcement activities and do not result in penalties or citations. To contact OSHA’s free consultation service, go to OSHA’s On-site Consultation webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.
Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Employees can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eCompliant Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to your local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by an employee are more likely to result in an inspection.