Canadian Occupational Safety

October/November 2017

Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

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Page 31 of 39

32 Canadian Occupational Safety | pipe," but if the worker cannot hear the warning, his safety is in jeopardy, Witt says. It may not be clear to young work- ers the level at which noises can do damage. For example, most provin- cial regulations have an eight-hour exposure limit around 85 dB, which is not very loud. "If you have to raise your voice to talk with somebody, you are in an area where you could be experiencing noise damage because it's long term," says Mitchell. "It should be known it's not as loud as people think to cause hearing loss." GET CREATIVE Employers need to use some creative methods to make sure young workers understand the more they can do to protect themselves now, the better the outcome in their later years. With young workers, you don't want to "shove PPE down their throat" or bark orders at them; you want to build a relationship and provide coaching and mentoring, says Mitchell. You want to show them proof of the importance of wearing hearing protection, such as the legislative requirements, the results of hearing tests or the noise levels in the workplace. It's also important to remove any potential barriers to wearing hear- ing protection because if the worker doesn't want to wear it, she will find any excuse. Make sure to offer a wide variety of earplugs and ensure they are comfortable and allow for good com- munication between workers, says Witt. Employers can put recognition pro- grams in place to praise those young workers who are wearing their hear- ing protection. Recognition programs run the gamut from very sophisticated with a third-party vendor to more ad-hoc. For example, employees may get points when they are spotted work- ing safely that they can then save up to purchase items from a vendor's online catalogue. On the other hand, a safety manager may be armed with a stack of $10 Tim Hortons' gift cards that he hands out as he sees safe practices. Of course an old-fashioned pat on the back goes a long way, too. "You can provide recognition or some type of positive reinforcement, 'You know, I found you wearing your earplugs and that's something we value here.' It's about making sure workers know that," says Hall. There are many fun apps and tools out there that can demonstrate to workers the effects of noise-induced hearing loss. Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board launched an online tool at that answers the question: "How old are your ears?" The user listens to five dif- ferent sounds and indicates whether or not he can hear them. At the end, the system identifies the biological age of the user's ears — which may not be the same as the chronological age. A tool like this offers a good opportunity to bring in some real life examples from the workplace. For instance, it can be very effective to have a more senior worker with hearing loss complete the exercise next to a young worker. "Something like that can demon- strate, 'You can hear it, but I don't. And I should have worn hearing protection 30 years ago when I was starting and this is the result.' It becomes very stark to realize they can hear this but the person next to them can't," says Hall. "It becomes a lot more real." The Hearing Loss Simulator app takes common sounds and illus- trates how they sound to a person with hearing loss. Users are able to hear the difference between mild and severe cases of hearing loss. There are a slew of audio dem- onstrations online that will show how an individual's hearing loss is affected if he is working in noise for five, 10 or 15 years. The ability to simulate the effects of noise exposure in the workplace is unique — you can't simulate an electrocution, for example — and employers should be making use of these tools in young worker orientation, says Witt. "I love those demonstrations for training the young workers because it just fast forwards what it's going to be like in a few years and if we can wake them up and say, 'Hey, here's what it's going to be like so pay your price now by using hearing protec- tion or pay later with hearing loss,' it's powerful stuff," he says. As long as apps and tools are not used in a scientific way to diag- nose hearing loss, they can be great resources to create awareness in a fun way, says Hall. Just like any other safety hazard, young workers should be encouraged to speak up if they have concerns about noise exposure. They should ask their employers if noise is mea- sured in the workplace and if their ears could be damaged through exposure, says Hall. In order to truly get behind hearing protection and pop those earplugs in ever y day, young workers must understand that invisible hazards are just as dangerous as visible ones. "Noise causes no pain. There's no visible trauma. Ears don't bleed. Ears don't bruise. It doesn't leave any vis- ible scars," says Witt. "The worker could say, 'I don't hurt, so it must be all right.' Isn't it almost human nature to say, 'As long as I don't feel any pain, it must be alright'? Those are the habits we are trying to break early." Source: Workplace Safety and Insurance Board is too LOUD? LOUD How DECIBEL LEVEL 20-50 Rustling Leaves Normal Conversation City Traffic Busy Restaurant Power Tools Chainsaw Rock Concert 50-70 70-80 75-90 90-100 100-120 COMMON SOUNDS Prolonged exposure to noise over 85 decibels (dB) will likely cause damage over time. These common sources of noise can help you gauge whether or not your ears are in the safe zone. 120-140 Canadian Safety Reporter is an essential resource for the creation of a safe workplace. This monthly newsletter illustrates techniques and strategies on how to keep the workplace safe from hazards and in full compliance with the latest legislation. WORKPLACE SAFETY IS A CHEAP YET EFFECTIVE INSURANCE POLICY To order your subscription call 1.800.387.5164 | 416.609.3800 Subscribe today for only $135 Order No. 20208-17 Safety Reporter Canadian

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