Hearing protection programs: A new take on an old problem
Exposure to high levels of noise can lead to permanent hearing loss. According to OSHA, roughly 30 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise every year. Although providing education and training and ensuring employees wear hearing protection is important, NIOSH encourages organizations to implement a “Buy Quiet” program.
According to NIOSH, a Buy Quiet program is a preventive initiative that aims to achieve three goals:
- Inspire companies to buy or rent quieter machinery and tools to help reduce worker exposure to noise levels
- Educate companies about hazardous workplace noise levels so employers can make informed decisions when buying equipment
- Encourage manufacturers to create quieter tools and machinery by producing a demand for quieter products
A successful Buy Quiet program can help organizations attain OSHA compliance, reduce employee hearing loss and lower the long-term costs of protective equipment and workers’ compensation claims, among other things.
If your organization is interested in initiating a Buy Quiet program, NIOSH recommends creating an inventory of your company’s current machines and their noise levels. Your company’s purchaser should then “use the inventory to compare the noise emission levels of differing models of replacement equipment prior to their purchase,” NIOSH states. For more information on Buy Quiet programs, visit www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/buyquiet.