Every year millions of people in the US are exposed to hazardous occupational noise. The law requires employers provide their employees with a safe workplace. When the workers’ noise exposure exceeds an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels on the A scale (dBA), the employer must develop and implement a hearing conservation program, which includes noise level monitoring, annual hearing tests, and hearing protection (29 CFR 1910.95(c)). Where noise is a potential hazard, wearing earmuffs is an effective solution for minimizing exposures and reducing risk of hearing loss.
Wearing properly-fitted hearing protection is the best method of preventing occupational hearing loss. Loud noise has also been shown to reduce productivity and create psychological and physical stress. For optimal protection, use hearing protectors correctly and consistently. Make sure that your ears are well-covered by adjusting earmuff straps or headbands to fit your individual size. In choosing the right earmuffs, you should consider the work environment, the type of equipment handled, other types of PPE that you will be wearing, and the duration of use.
There are different styles of earmuffs designed for various types of work:
Headband style earmuffs are the sturdiest and best choice for frequent wear.
Leightning L1 Headband Earmuff 1010922 (NRR 25) features steel wire construction for extra durability of daily use in agriculture and farming, landscaping, sporting, steel, wood products, metal fabrication, transportation, forestry, general contracting, military and law enforcement, petrochemical and equipment manufacturing. The padded foam headband and the ear cushions provide extra comfort with minimal pressure. The patented air flow control increases protection levels without increasing the size or weight of the earmuff.
Neckband style is a behind-the-head design to be worn with other PPE, such as face shields, helmets, visors, and respirators. Here are a few examples of the best neckband earmuffs.
Howard Leight Leightning Ultraslim Neckband Earmuffs 1013460 (NRR 22) are perfect for low level noise reduction especially in the construction industry.
For compatibility with other PPE, try the high-quality Howard Leight Leightning L1H Helmet Earmuffs 1011991 (NRR 23) or Howard Leight Leightning L3H Helmet Earmuffs 1011993 (NRR 27). Both models are specifically designed to be seamlessly integrated with a wide range of hard hats and include adapters to attach the earmuffs to a hard hat.
Taking proper care of your earmuffs is important. Wipe earmuff cushions and headband with a clean cloth, and ensure that sound-attenuating material inside the ear cushions does not get wet. Also, for better care, it makes sense to check the manufacturer’s instruction manual.
If you need expert advice about the best hearing protection devices (HPDs), please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 800-829-9580, or visit us online at www.pksafety.com, and follow @PKSafetydotcom.
The history of joining different metals together dates back to the Bronze Age. But it wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that the only welding process that existed was forge welding. Welding is a process that joins materials together by melting a metal piece with a filler metal to form a strong joint. Today, the most common types of welding processes are:
Below is a table of safety hazards existing in different types of welding operations, and the recommendations on how to prevent injuries.
Welding Safety Hazards and Protective Measures
|Types of Hazards||MPAW/PAC, Air Carbon Arc Processes||SMAW, GTAW, GMAW, FCAW||SAW||OXYFUEL||
|Ergonomic||Y||Y||Y||Y||Use proper lifting techniques, foot rest, knee pads, and take breaks, or frequently change position to prevent musculoskeletal injuries, minimize vibration, remove debris and clutter to avoid slips and falls|
|Electric Shock||Y||Y||Y||N||Inspect electrode holder for damage, do not touch electrically “hot” parts inside the welder case, keep welding cable and electrode holder insulation in perfect condition, use insulated tools, wear Arc Flash clothing, aprons, FR gloves, headwear and footwear.|
|Bright Light||Y||Y||Y||Y||Make sure you are wearing protective glasses with side shields, or a welding helmet with a dark lens.|
|UV Radiation||Y||Y||N||N||Wear UV protective clothing and headgear; the chart below indicates the correct lens shade numbers.|
|Toxic Fumes, Gases||Y||Y||N||Y||Do not weld in confined spaces without ventilation, stay upwind when welding outdoors; use respirators, portable exhaust systems: fans, fixed or removable exhaust hoods.|
|Fire, Burns, Heat||Y||Y||N||Y||Inspect work area, remove any flammable materials, ensure access to fire hoses, sand buckets, fire extinguishers, wear a welding helmet, FR cotton, FR leather work clothes, do not roll up sleeves, wear pants over the top of leather work boots with 6-to-8-inch ankle coverage and metatarsal guards over the shoe laces.|
|Noise||Y||Y||Y||Y||Define the appropriate hearing protection with the help of certified intrinsically safe sound meters. Use ear plugs or ear muffs in the environments with high levels of noise pollution.|
|Height (tower climbing)||Y||Y||N||Y||When working at heights, prevent falls by using Arc Flash harnesses and lanyards.|
Filter Lens Shade Numbers for Protection Against Radiant Energy
|Welding Operation||Shade Number|
|Shielded Metal-Arc Welding using 1/16, 13/32, 1/8 and 5/32 inch diameter electrodes||10|
|Gas-Shielded Arc Welding (nonferrous) using 1/16, 3/32, 1/8 and 5/32 inch diameter electrodes||11|
|Gas-Shielded Arc Welding (ferrous) using 1/16, 3/32, 1/8 and 5/32 inch diameter electrodes||12|
|Shielded Metal Arc Welding using 3/16, 7/32, and 1/4 inch diameter electrodes||12|
|5/16, and 3/8 inch diameter electrodes||14|
|Atomic Hydrogen Welding||10-14|
|Torch Blazing||3 or 4|
|Light cutting, up to 1 in.||3 or 4|
|Medium cutting, 1-6 in.||4 or 5|
|Heavy cutting, over 6 in.||4 or 5|
|Light gas welding, up to 1/8 in.||4 or 5|
|Medium gas welding, 1/8-1/2 in.||5 or 6|
|Heavy gas welding, over 1/2 in.||6 or 8|
The following OSHA standards are applicable to welding:
Welding, Cutting & Brazing 29 CFR 1910 Subpart Q,
Welding & Cutting 29 CFR 1926 Subpart J,
Welding, Cutting and Heating 29 CFR 1915 Subpart D,
Permit-Required Confined Spaces 29 CFR 1910.146,
Confined and Enclosed Spaces & Other Dangerous Atmospheres 29 CFR 1915 Subpart B,
Hazard Communication 29 CFR 1910.1200,
Respiratory Protection 29 CFR 1910.134,
Air Contaminants 29 CFR 1910.1000, 29 CFR 1915.1000, 29 CFR 1926.55.
Sources of information: CCOHS.ca, OSHA.gov
If you have questions or need help finding the right protection equipment, please feel free to call us at 800-829-9580, or visit us online at www.pksafety.com.
Landscaping is a job that many DIYers who love to work outdoors take upon themselves. There are obvious dangers to this kind of work when operating heavy automatic machinery (rototillers, mowers, weed wackers, Bobcats, tractors, trenchers and blowers) that we will cover below. Many creative home improvement enthusiasts, and even some professional contractors, are unaware of the potential hazards of landscaping.
“An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure.” (Benjamin Franklin)
Top 8 Landscaping Dangers and Preventive Measures:
1. Learn how to use your equipment before working with it. Study the user manual, read the safety instructions carefully, and if possible, ask a fully-trained professional to show you how to use the tool for the first time. Do not attempt to repair equipment that is malfunctioning or jammed. Numerous tragic cases of injures that happen while operating various tools are reported every year. It is important to keep tools in excellent working condition – sharp and clean – to help prevent repetitive stress injuries. After the landscaping work is done, make sure that your equipment is properly cleaned and ready for your next landscaping job. Do not leave machinery unattended. Properly secure and store any equipment, chemicals, or materials that will be left at the site.
2. Wearing PPE is required for landscaping work: protective gloves and glasses, ear muffs or ear plugs, face masks and shields, respirators, helmets, non-slip sturdy shoes, and the appropriate workwear – long sleeve loose-fitting shirts and long pants. Last but not least: absolutely no jewelry, as it may get caught in the machinery while performing the work.
3. Wear high-visibility clothing to be easily spotted on the street: vehicle accidents are the leading cause of fatal incidents among landscapers. Exposure to extreme temperatures may result in heat stress, so dress according to the weather conditions. Take the shade with you by wearing the Evaporative Cooling Ranger Hat. To protect yourself against the harmful ultraviolet radiation, use a sunscreen lotion with at least SPF30, wear sunglasses that block 99-100% UVA and UVB radiation. Limit your sun exposure time by taking frequent breaks and staying in the shadow. Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine to prevent heat cramps and exhaustion. In wet conditions, don’t forget to put on the appropriate rainwear.
4. Proper eye and respiratory protective equipment – goggles and respirators – must be used while working with toxic chemicals, such as Roundup and other glyphosate-containing herbicides for weed and grass control, that are very dangerous. Clean water supply and a space where workers can wash themselves in the event of chemical splashes should be located in close proximity to working areas where chemicals are handled. One more safety reminder: chemicals must be transported properly via truck or trailer in special containers.
5. Prevent falls from ladders by making sure the ladder is placed on a stable, leveled surface, and by not loading it beyond the maximum load capacity stated in the manufacturer’s brochure. Make sure the top and the bottom of the ladder are free of tools or any debris, and use ladder safety and fall safety systems for extra protection.
6. The main source of injury for tree care professionals and the DIY-trimmers is that tree branches fall in unexpected direction. Falls from high trees, ladders or aerial lifts are extremely dangerous, and should be prevented with Fall Safety equipment. In addition, electrocution due to tree trimming performed near utility lines, or improper handling of outdoor lighting systems can result in major injury or death. When working near the electrical lines, wear Arc Flash Rated clothing and avoid the danger of electrical shock and electrocution by remaining at least 10 feet from electric lines to perform tree care operations, or contact the utility company to de-energize and ground the lines. Do not operate electrical equipment in humid conditions, and use special cut–resistant rubber gloves and boots.
7. Other easily-preventable dangers include: allergic reaction to plants or insect bites and stings, Histoplasmosis from bird droppings, Hantavirus from mouse droppings. Wearing the appropriate PPE will completely eliminate these risks. Wearing HazMat suit, gloves and booties will protect you from exposure to the hazardous substances.
8. To protect from fire danger, wear flame resistant clothes, and make sure your electrical equipment does not cause a fire by keeping it in perfect working condition, especially in severe drought conditions and in high fire risk environments.
Be aware of hidden dangers at your work environment at all times, and be safe by following Landscaping and Horticultural Safety Guidelines and best practices provided by OSHA.
If you have questions or need help finding the right landscaping safety equipment, please feel free to call us at 800-829-9580, or visit us online at www.pksafety.com.
Measuring noise levels and employees’ noise exposure is an important part of a workplace noise control and hearing conservation program. A wide range of professional instruments can be used to measure noise levels. We carry a complete line of sound measuring devices: noise indicators, sound examiners, sound level meters, outdoor measuring systems. A noise indicator shows if the noise level is above the non-harmful 85 dB, and if it is necessary to start using hearing protection such as ear plugs or ear muffs. A sound meter is a more robust device, which consists of a microphone, electronic circuits and a display. It measures, records and processes data. To avoid noise reading alterations in windy areas, a windscreen is used to cover the microphone.
3M™ Noise Indicator NI-100
3M™ NI-100 is a durable noise-indicating device that alerts users when noise levels exceed 85dB. It is one of the most affordable noise detection options available for monitoring noise levels. Red flashing LED light indicates noise levels that are above 85 dB, green flashing LED shows noise levels below 85 dB. NI-100 is easy-to–use: clips to a shirt or a jacket, and turns on with a simple press-and-hold of a button. The unit will auto-power off after 10 hours.
3M™ Noise Indicator NI-100 is the ideal tool for Health & Safety Managers working in varied noise environments: it helps training workers within a Hearing Conservation Program to spot hazardous noise levels, to ensure that they know when to put on the hearing protection, or as a mapping tool to determine where noise studies are necessary.
3M™ SOUND EXAMINERS
According to the international ANSI and IEC standards, the type/class of a sound level meter is defined by its accuracy: type 1 is more accurate than type 2.
Differences Between Models:
1. Type of Microphone
2. Intrinsic Safety(IS)
Intrinsic safety is covered under OSHA Regulations (Standards – 29 CFR), Hazardous (classified) locations 1910.307 and 1926.407.
3M™ Sound Examiner™ SE-401-IS
3M Sound Examiner SE-401-IS is a high-quality user-friendly instrument engineered to be used in potentially hazardous work environments: pharmaceutical, automotive, transportation, metal production, military maintenance, repair and operation, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas industries.
The benefit of 3M Sound Examiner SE-401-IS is that it offers intuitive interface which does not require training and is certified intrinsically safe. The averaging functionality allows for easy measurement in various environments. Other important advantages of using this meter include large backlit display and remote printing capabilities.
3M™ Sound Examiner™ SE-402-IS
The 3M Sound Examiner Sound Level Meter SE-402-IS is an intrinsically safe meter engineered to accurately measure noise levels in highly variable environments. This easy-to-use instrument calculates the average sound pressure level (LEQ/LAVG) over the run time; data log the maximum, minimum and peak values, and enables data to be downloaded for further analysis.
Manual: 3M SE-402-IS User Manual
3M™ Sound Examiner™ SE-402-R
The 3M Sound Examiner SE-402-R is a versatile compact meter with accurate sound measurement and intuitive analysis capabilities. The tool computes the average sound pressure level (LEQ/LAVG) over the run time, helping to assess occupational and environmental noise levels. The aerodynamic shape, removable preamp, onboard data logging, and SoundPatrol portable digital printing functionalities ensure the improvement in operating efficiency and reporting in acoustics, heat stress, and environment monitoring.
Brochure: The 3M SoundPro System
The 3M™ SoundPro™ DL Series Sound Level Meter SP-DL-1-1/3
The 3M SoundPro DL Series Sound Level Meter SP-DL-1-1/3 provides Class 1 sound level monitoring and comprehensive data analysis. With real-time frequency analysis displayed on its large screen display and data storing capabilities it’s easy to use to post-process and evaluate workplace noise levels. Applications Include: occupational noise evaluations, environmental noise assessments, noise ordinance enforcement and legal metrology, general sound and frequency analysis, vehicle noise evaluations.
Manual: SoundPro User Manual
The 3M™ SoundPro™ DL Series Sound Level Meter SP-DL-2-1/3
The 3M SoundPro DL Series Sound Level Meter SP-DL-2-1/3 provides Class 2 sound level monitoring and comprehensive data analysis. With real-time frequency analysis displayed on its large screen display and data storing capabilities it’s easy to use to post-process and evaluate workplace noise levels.
The 3M™ SoundPro™ Outdoor Measuring System (OMS)
The SoundPro Outdoor Measuring System (OMS) helps protect the instrument from exposure to wind, rain, snow, chemicals, particulates, animals, vandalism and theft. It is also used for extended battery life with up to one week of continuous monitoring. Outdoor measuring system (OMS) allows for unattended sound level meter monitoring. Design allows for case to be padlocked. Does not include the SoundPro series meter. The outdoor measurement system should be stored in a cool dry location with the lid closed whenever possible. The OMS is only for the Sound Pro type 1 or type 2, due to how it plugs in. It won’t work on the SE-402 or SE-401, but might work on the SE-402-R.
Outdoor System Includes:
Average adults spend over 10.3 years (90,000 hours) at work in their lifetime. People’s ears have different levels of sensitivity to loud sounds, especially at certain frequencies. Noise is one of the most common occupational hazards in workplaces: it causes hearing loss, creates stress, and contributes to work-related accidents. In industrial settings, where there is a constant background noise in addition to impulse noise, the danger of losing hearing increases. Most experts believe that damage to hearing occurs when noise levels are higher than 85 dB. That is why measuring sound levels at work place is essential!
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides annual statistics for occupational injuries. Three private sector industries had more than 100,000 days-away-from-work incidents in 2014: health care, manufacturing, and retail. What occupations are in the list of the most dangerous professions? Police, patrol and correctional officers, firefighters, nursing assistants, construction workers, and tractor/trailer/truck drivers. They lead in the number of work-related injuries: the incidence rate per 10,000 full-time workers in 2014 was more than 300, and the number of cases with days-away-from-work was more than 10,000. Hearing loss represented 12% of all cases submitted in 2012 through the survey of occupational injuries and illnesses.
Some sound measurement apps for smart phones (for example, SPLnFFT, Noise Hunter, NoiSee) claim revolutionizing the noise level data collection and empowering people to make educated decisions about the safety of their environments. However, although they can be used to make a quick spot measurement when a sound meter is not available, they do not meet the criteria for accuracy, necessary for the occupational noise assessments.
Noise control requires knowledge of the relationships between the sound field, the sound pressure, and the sound power. In professional environments, sound level measurements are performed using type 1 or type 2 meters. The 29 CFR 1910.95 OSHA noise standards consider type 2 instruments to have an accuracy of ±2 dBA. To be compliant with the US occupational and environmental noise requirements, meters used to measure sound level at workplace must meet ANSI type 2 specifications. The difference between the two meters lies in the microphone precision level. Type 1 can be safely used for outdoor noise monitoring due to the sensitivity of the microphone capsule, for example, in legal metronomy when data is collected as evidence. Type 2 microphone works best for monitoring noise exposures for occupational hearing conservation programs and for basic acoustic measurements.
Several types of instruments are available to measure noise levels at workplace:
Sound level meters are capable of measuring the following:
For most work environments, an integrating sound level meter that measures sound energy over a period of time is essential. If your workplace has harmful noise levels, plan ahead and wear hearing protection. PK Safety recommends wearing ear plugs and ear muffs as a preventive measure against hearing damage at work. For more information about these products, go to pksafety.com
Every year, approximately 30 million people in the United States are occupationally exposed to hazardous levels of noise according to OSHA. Since 2004, the Bureau of Labour Statistics has reported nearly 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss. Surgery and hearing aids can only help with hearing loss, not correct it.
OSHA’s permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 90 dBA for all workers for an 8 hour day. For each additional 5 dBA, the exposure time is cut in half. NIOSH identified construction, healthcare, and mining, as industries where employees are routinely at risk for noise exposure. Signs that your work environment may be too noisy include:
Avoid permanent hearing loss by protecting yourself on the job or in hazardous environments.
Which hearing protector is right for me?
The choice of hearing protectors is a personal one. When choosing, it’s advisable to consider: level of noise, comfort, and fit for the environment. Manufacturers often provide a noise reduction rating (NRR) or the ability of a hearing protector to reduce noise. NIOSH recommends using fit data based on ANSI S12.6-1997 to determine the level of noise protection provided by a hearing protector. In lieu of fit data, NRRs can be adjusted (derated) to determine the noise reduction provided. For ear muffs subtract 25% from NRR, for formable earplugs subtract 50% from NRR, and for other earplugs subtract 70% from NRR.
When the noise exposure level in dBC is known, the effective A-weighted noise level (ENL) is: ENL [dB(A)] = Workplace noise level in dBC – derated NRR. When the noise exposure level in dB(A ) is known, the effective A-weighted noise level is: ENL = Workplace noise level in dB(A) – (derated NRR -7).
Common Types of Hearing Protection
Ear plugs: When inserted, they block the ear canal. Small, comfortable and convenient. They can require time to insert and remove and hygiene must be considered if being reused. Ear plugs come in a range from basic to premium. One of our customers raves about the Moldex BattlePlugs Shooting Ear Plugs saying “I’m a Roller Derby referee and I am constantly blasting a fox 40 whistle as well as other refs. Those whistles hit 115-125 decibels which can damage an unprotected eardrum. Used these at the last game and not a single problem.”
Ear muffs: A headband with two cushions that fit over the ear, reducing noise. Ideal for intermittent noise as little effort is required to take on and off. They reduce noise less than ear plugs. They can be worn with minor ear infections. Ear muffs are less portable and can be inconvenient with glasses or in confined spaces. A PK Safety company favorite are the Howard Leight Sync Stereo Earmuffs because they double as headphones in addition to providing hearing protection.
Hearing bands: A band consisting of two ear plugs held over the ends of the ear canal. The band may help the plugs stay in their intended place longer. Hearing bands are susceptible to breaking if sat on or placed underneath other objects. One hearing band to consider is the Howard Leight QB1HYG Hearing Band Ear Plugs. The sporty design ensures they wrap around your ears and stay in place while working. Hearing bands such as these are also nice because the ear plugs are replaceable while the band is reusable.
Be aware that removing ear plugs temporarily in a high noise environment reduces the maximum hearing protection provided. When you’re all finished, clean your hearing protector based on manufacturer instructions in order to keep it hygienic and ready to use next time. The effects of hearing loss can be profound, as hearing loss can interfere with your ability to enjoy socializing with friends, playing with your children or grandchildren, or participating in other social activities you enjoy, and can lead to psychological and social isolation. We at PK Safety hope you will consider hearing protection the next time your workers or you are exposed to occupational noise.
The Moldex Battleplugs are a new type of reusable earplug. These patented, baffled hearing protection devices have two modes which provide completely different noise reduction ratings. A small hinge on the outside part of the earplug allows a cap to be either open or closed depending on the expected noise level.
If the caps are closed, the Battleplugs have a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 24. In the open position, they have an NRR of 9. When the caps are open, the wearer is still protected against loud blasts, but they are better able to hear commands or noises from the surrounding area. Blast protection data shows that in the open position, the louder the blast, the more noise reduction.
When there is going to be continuous and steady noise or sustained firing, the closed position provides maximum protection. Opening and closing the cap may take you a couple of tries to get down, but the learning curve is definitely short. Within an hour of wearing them, I was easily switching between positions without jarring the plugs loose from their snug spot in my ears.
The shape of these earplugs and their soft flexible construction make them comfortable for long-term wear. While they aren’t as lightweight as the standard, and very popular, Moldex Pura-Fit 6800 Foam Earplugs they still fit well and can be left in and forgotten about for a long time without developing sensitivity.
The Battleplugs are also washable and reusable. Wash with soap and water and dry thoroughly. When cleaning it’s a good idea to check for tears or damage. A damaged plug may not provide the protection you think you are getting, and you may put your hearing at risk.
These convertible plugs come with a cord to attach and keep track of the earplugs while keeping them handy as well as a small clam shell case for storage when they are not in use.