Protecting Hearing

What I like about this message from John Spahr is that it seems to be a message of hope for anyone concerned about noise and it deleterious effects on hearing. For the past half year or so I've been sensing a turning of the tide in attitudes toward noise and the idea of protecting hearing. Here's a message from a person with a genuine concern for the hearing health of his employees. There's no guarantee that he would agree with my position on the decibel issue but his bias is definitely in the right direction.

Ron Pellegrino

>Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 14:17:06 -0500
>Subject: Examples to use for noise exposure

> Hi Ron

>Like the information that you have made available on this web page. I was
>looking for information on the average db for common tools found in
>everyday life. Things like a jack hammer, or a lawn mower or jet flying
>over head, or the roar of a Harley Davidson. Why am I looking for this
>information? I want to get our employees thinking more about wearing
>hearing protection in the plant. Hearing is a gift and a frustrating
>thing to loose. I want to educate the employees on the steps that they
>can take to prevent them from suffering permanent hearing loss or damage.

>Thank you for your time and any information you can provide.

>John Spahr EHS
>SKW Biosystems


Subject: Re: Examples to use for noise exposure
Date: 7/12/99

Hi John:

Thanks for your kind words on the Noise and Sound Pollution: Issues and Principles section of my site. The fact is I am no fan of db ratings for any noise sources; rather than promoting clarity on noise issues, they tend to spread confusion. I suggest people follow a very simple rule based on good common sense. If you make noise or are in the vicinity of noise, depending upon the duration and nature of the source, protect your ears with either plugs, muffs, your fingers, or your palms or a combination. Those of us in the sensible sound movement couldn't agree with you more that "Hearing is a gift and a frustrating thing to loose." Kudos for your wise efforts "to educate [your] employees on the steps that they can take to prevent them from suffering permanent hearing loss or damage."

When it comes to protecting any of the senses, consciousness raising (education) is the key and, without a doubt, remembering a simple common sense rule beats list of numbers associated with various tools or activities. Consider using gentle humorous periodic hearing health reminders accompanying company communications such as paychecks, notices, etc. Consider running a contest with modest cash prizes for the budding cartoonists in your company on the subject of noise and hearing protection. Award the cash prizes at a company gathering. And for your periodic reminders, cycle through all the entries using the prize winners more frequently. Make it an annual competition and part of the company culture. You might be surprised at the favorable media attention your company would get by serving as a model for educating employees about the hazards of noise and any other attacks against any of the other senses. No question about it, there's a ground swell of interest in promoting healthy working environments and it sounds like your attitude makes you a leader in the movement.

Ron Pellegrino

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