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Bring the tunes to work • Employees are working their day away with music, news or podcasts streaming into their ears. • More and more people are wearing headphones at work. For knowledge workers, being able to tune out background noise and distractions to zone in on their work has become a popular pursuit • The debate grows with the growing popularity of iPod use. As of April 2007, more than 100 million iPods have been sold worldwide. Add to this number millions of other small portable listening devices such as MP3 players. Many people have been suffering from hearing problems since the introduction of iPod and other portable music devices. One of the reasons that the iPod stands out among its competitors is that it is one of the loudest portable music players available right now. If the Buds are in how do you hear the danger – Machinery, tools, and equipment emit sounds of varying loudness and in particular frequencies – Continuous or intermittent – Low-frequency equipment noise sources cause hearing loss in the speech frequencies 0507 In Alberta Hazard assessment • 7(1) An employer must assess a work site and identify existing and potential hazards before work begins at the work site or prior to the construction of a new work site. • (2) An employer must prepare a report of the results of a hazard assessment and the methods used to control or eliminate the hazards identified. • (3) An employer must ensure that the date on which the hazard assessment is prepared or revised is recorded on it. • (4) An employer must ensure that the hazard assessment is repeated • (a) at reasonably practicable intervals to prevent the development of unsafe and unhealthy working conditions, • (b) when a new work process is introduced, • (c) when a work process or operation changes, or • (d) before the construction of significant additions or alterations to a • work site. •Noise Source Sound Pressure Levels of Common Noises so turn up the volume drowned it out -- NOT! Loudness 10 dB 65 dB 90 dB 100 dB 110 dB 115 dB 130 dB – Whisper – Conversation – Shop tools – Pneumatic drill – Woodworking shop – Abrasive blasting – Jackhammer Baby Boomers Drive New Market Baby boomers are driving new designs in hearing aids. Technology more important than hiding device – design based. inherent risk • The inherent risk of excessive volume, when using ear bud headphones, makes them more risky to use than the older and larger muff-type earphones, which used to be the standard with Walkman and portable CD players. The ear buds positioned inside the ears are not as efficient at blocking outside sounds as the cushioned headsets. As a result, the volume knob often gets an extra turn to drown out the outside noise. To make matters even worse, the loud noise from the earphones is produced right in the ears High Volume • If you frequently listen to your iPod at a high volume it can cause Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. The effects of noise-induced hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. The symptoms increase when a person is frequently exposed to loud noises for a long period of time. Prevention is the only cure for noise-induced hearing loss. Here are a few tips to help take care of your ears while listening to your iPod. Use noise cancelling or sound-isolating headphones. The earphones that come with iPods are hazardous because they fit directly into the ear. These earphones boost sound by as much as nine decibels. You have the equivalent to the sound of a lawnmower going directly into your ear. Since the earphones do not fit snugly into the ear, it is possible for background noise to interfere with the music. Pump up the Volume • The listener has to turn the music up louder make up for the extra noise in the background. Turning up the music helps the listener hear the full range of the music by drowning out any extra noise. Sound-isolating headphones fit snugly into the ear so that background noises cannot be heard over the music. This way, the music can be kept at safe volume. Turn the volume down. Many people listen to their iPod at a higher volume than is necessary to hear the music well. People are good at turning the music up when they cannot hear it well. Most are not as adept at turning it down once the background noise has subsided. When there is not any noise in the background, turn the music down a couple of notches to see if you can still hear it well. • Hearing loss is possible with iPod use. The first generation of iPods could produce more than 100 decibels and use of earbuds may increase the sound energy reaching the cochlea. Get your hearing checked. This is the only way to accurately gauge your current level of hearing. Having your ears checked will give an early warning to hearing loss. You should have your hearing checked around the same time that you have your eyes checked. • Having an iPod is like having a fast car: the speedometer may go up to 220, but the speed limit only allows you to go 70 for your safety. Just because the iPod can play music loudly does not mean you have to listen to that way. Protect your hearing because once its gone, you may never get it back. Injury hazards Contrary to a growing urban legend, wearing an iPod does not increase the chance of someone being hit by lightning. Wearing an iPod, however, may influence the path taken by electricity and increase a person’s chance of harm; as would the wearing of metal jewelry or carrying coins in a shirt pocket. As with any batteryoperated device, iPod use around flammable vapors may increase the risk of fire or explosion. Police in some jurisdictions have observed an increase in personal assault and theft when iPods are worn in public. An iPod’s small size (smallest version is about the size of a pack of gum), thin earbud/earphone cable, or wireless headset, limits the potential for the device to be caught and draw a worker into machinery. How Hearing Is Damaged – Hearing ability relies on delicate parts that can be damaged in the inner and middle ear – Hairlike cells in the inner ear are flattened by high noise levels and injured over time – Hearing loss is gradual – Hearing damage is permanent Hearing Loss – Hearing loss is any reduction in the ability to hear – Two types of loss • Temporary hearing loss (temporary threshold shift) may occur immediately following a high noise exposure • Permanent hearing loss (standard threshold shift) Signs of Hearing Loss – Difficulty hearing people speak – Inability to hear certain high-pitched or soft sounds – Noise or ringing in ears – Getting complaints that the radio or TV volume is too high 0507 1987 • As early as 1987, NIOSH had evaluated the use of Walkman radios, tape and CD players and found sound output could exceed OSHA limits and that the headsets used with these devices afforded no ear protection (average NRR of 1 dB). At a 100 percent volume setting an iPod could produce sounds loud enough to damage hearing in as little as a few minutes each day. But at volume settings below 50 percent, no harm is expected regardless of how much time is spent listening. Some time you have to hear the hazard coming Distraction • Could iPod use distract from attention to safety at work? I could not find research to directly answer this question. The closest research that applies comes from statistics in driver distraction that result in vehicle accidents. Adjusting the controls — tuning the radio to a station — accounts for two to five percent of vehicle accidents. Listening to the car’s radio, however, shows mixed findings. Some studies show that listening to “soft music” potentially improves driver response time, while other studies show that reaction times may be slowed. If a car’s radio, sound system or use of headsets distracts from being able to hear horns or alarms outside the vehicle, we should assume that risks are too great. Incident – Unsafe Condition • Incident causation One of the problems in accident investigations is the failure of investigators to find the root cause. A foreseeable problem with anyone involved in an accident at work while wearing an iPod is that accident investigators may wrongly conclude the accident was due to the worker listening to the iPod and “not thinking” about safety, or was “careless” or “inattentive.” The root cause, however, would likely go deeper than these surface findings. Unsafe act/behavioral safety The iPod should not be viewed as an unsafe condition. The act of using the iPod determines if harm is likely. One can argue that an iPod may be used to steal electronic data. It is the act of stealing that is the real issue. Likewise, the sound adjustment on the iPod is more of an act than condition. Survey Said • 32% of employees listen to music while working. • 48% from ages 25 to 29 said they listen to music during work. • 90% from ages 18 to 24 and 89% from ages 30 to 39 said being able to listen to music during work made them more satisfied with their jobs and more productive. Potential for Violations, Safety Hazards • Without a policy regarding the use of iPods, companies could run afoul of wage and hour, safety, and other laws,. For example, trainers or supervisors who allow hourly employees to take an iPod home and ask the employees to listen to or view a training module could give employees a reason to sue under the Labour Standards Act if they are not compensated for the time spent on the training module, he explains. Legal trouble can also arise if employees download confidential company information, such as personnel information or trade secrets, or third-party copyrighted information, to the iPod. "You need to be mindful, too, of what type of environment you have at your workplace and that the use of the device doesn't contribute to any hazards. For example, if an employee is listening to a training module on an iPod, he or she may be unable to hear a horn or alarm sounding on nearby moving equipment. In addition, vicarious liable employers could potentially face liability if an employee is involved in a motor vehicle accident while listening to a company training module on an iPod. Injuries incurred by employees while driving home from work are generally not compensable under worker's compensation laws, but listening to a company training module during that drive raises new issues. "What's the company's role in compensating them if they're injured, or worse yet, what if their use of the device actually contributes to the accident?". • • What You Can Do • It is recommends that employers place certain restrictions on the use of iPods, clearly outline those restrictions in a policy, and periodically require employees to affirm that they haven't violated the policy. • The policy should state that: • iPods are company property; • Employees should not copy company files or third-party copyrighted information onto them unless they have proper authorization to do so. • Employees should use common sense in determining under what circumstances or working conditions it's appropriate to use the iPods, and • Non-exempt employees should not use company iPods outside of the workplace or work hours. • In addition, if exempt employees are allowed to use company iPods out of the office, companies also should make it clear that they don't condone the use of iPods while driving. Summary of Risk • However, many of us do not know or are not actively aware that using these small wonders of technology can actually affect our hearing in a way that they may be caused by physiological impairment. The constant effect of headphones on our ears in this manner may result in us having slight problems like tinnitus, which is characterized by the faint "ringing" of the ears. • Finally, let’s not forget the hazards of a noisy work site. If you want to keep enjoying music into your later years, you need to take steps to preserve your hearing now. • Occupational hazards are no laughing matter, and while tennis players have their elbows, housemaids their knees and athletes their feet, iPod users are beginning to have their thumbs. That's right, doctors are beginning to talk of iPod-thumb. This condition is said to be caused by the hand movements that are required to work the wheel in order to navigate the long lists of songs and artists. I guess there is alternative to ear buds, I thought the law was designed to prevent hearing lose. Hearing Protection Devices—Earplugs and Canal Caps – Must be properly inserted to seal the ear canal • Slowly roll and compress foam into cylinder • Insert into ear canal while compressed – Keeps noise from reaching the eardrum – Cotton is not an earplug Hearing Protection Devices— Earmuffs – Sealed against head with ears fully enclosed – Hair out from muffs – Glasses and caps do not interfere with seal – Headband adjusted so cushions exert even pressure – Cleaned with warm, soapy water and rinsed Key Things to Remember – Hearing is a very important sense – don’t lose it – Noise exposure over 85 dB can cause hearing loss – Hearing loss cannot be cured or repaired – Hearing tests are conducted annually and can detect hearing loss – Hearing protection devices must be worn in highnoise areas Ringing in the Ear • that ringing in the ears is a sign of imminent ear damage. It means that it's time to cut back on listening time and turn the volume to the left. Rap this Tune • The number one risk around, • Is when the volume goes up when it should go down, • So be aware of the sounds that you're listenin' to, • And when it gets too loud, you know what to do: • Turn it to the left, turn, turn it to the left… The 60 – 60 Rule after work • the volume should be kept at no higher than 60 percent of the maximum and that it should be used for no more than about 60 minutes a day. So if the Law states you must • • • • • Must assess control or eliminate unsafe and unhealthy process or operation changes You’ve identified hearing loss, thumb muscular injuries, security or illegal company downloading and joint vicarious liability from noted law suits, what holding you back on developing or enforcing your policy, you are on the hook for your workers safety. • It your company --- It’s your workers --- It’s your Safety and Insurance Risk!
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