Encourage employees to take home earplugs to prevent hearing loss claims
"Noise hazards are not exclusive to the workplace, but compensation claims for noise-induced hearing loss often are," said Theresa Y. Schulz, hearing conservation manager for Howard Leight, a manufacturer of hearing protection devices. "Lawn mowers, chain saws, home workshop tools, even personal listening devices, and cranked up stereo systems can all add to hearing damage, but it's usually the employer who ends up paying the price."
Schulz said encouraging workers to wear hearing protection off the job makes sense for other reasons as well.
"One of the most difficult tasks safety managers face with regard to hearing conservation is convincing employees of the risk," she said. "Talking about noise hazards present in everyday activities brings the hearing conservation message ?home' in a very meaningful way. It gets workers' attention, helps make earplug use habitual, and more often than not, gets the neighbors' attention as well."
It is also important that the "take it home" message be overt and not tacit, Schulz said.
Schulz recommended posting signs by disposable earplug dispensers encouraging employees to "Pocket a Pair for Home" and making particular mention of the policy in training sessions and group meetings.
March 16, 2009
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