Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States.
Each year approximately 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to noise loud enough to damage their hearing.
In addition to that, it costs industry millions of dollars in workers' compensation costs due to hearing loss.
"Buy Quiet" is an occupational health and safety prevention initiative which encourages companies to purchase or rent quieter machinery when new businesses start or as older machinery is replaced to reduce worker exposure to noise. Buy Quiet is also a specific application of a broader NIOSH initiative--PREVENTION THROUGH DESIGN (PtD). The PtD initiative seeks to prevent or reduce occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities through the inclusion of prevention considerations in all designs that impact workers. Buy Quiet addresses this vision by eliminating noise hazards early in the life cycle of equipment and machinery, thus reducing the risk of occupational hearing loss among workers who use these tools.
ELEMENTS OF A "BUY QUIET" PROGRAM
- An inventory of a company's existing machinery and equipment with respective noise levels.The company’s purchaser can use the inventory to compare the noise emission levels of differing models of replacement equipment before their purchase. The inventory is then updated as equipment inventories are expanded or newer quieter equipment is purchased to replace retiring worn out louder equipment. The inventory can also be used for facilitating, documenting, tracking, and promoting a company's Buy Quiet purchase.
- A Buy Quiet company policy or procedure. Company policy can be an easy and effective way for employers to show commitment to using the best available technology to protect the hearing and well-being of their employees. Levels of commitment may include:
- Buy Quiet Beginners: Commit to purchasing replacement machinery that produces less noise than the original machinery.
- Mid-Range Level: Commit to purchasing the most cost-beneficial piece of machinery available that produces less noise than the original machinery.
- Highest Level: Commit to purchasing the quietest piece of machinery available regardless of price.
3. Educational materials and promotional tools designed to help inform their employees, management, customers, and the community about the importance and benefits of Buy Quiet. NIOSH developed a series of posters for construction companies to post at their worksites to communicate their organization’s efforts and commitment to reducing noise levels in and around those worksites.
4. Analysis of the Cost-Benefit of Buying Quiet. Calculation methods can be used to determine the return on investment and the true cost of purchasing one piece of equipment over another based on multiple factors; the cost of the quieter product, the cost to society, the business, and the individual if a significant hearing loss is incurred. In many cases, the quieter piece of equipment is the least costly alternative when all life-cycle costs of the machinery, possible worker’s compensation claims, costs associated with a company’s hearing conservation program, costs of healthcare (such as hearing aids), and lost productivity are considered. Conservative estimates provide $100 per dBA of savings when purchasing the quieter product. This savings is applicable across a wide variety of machinery and equipment.
SOLUTIONS FOR REDUCING NOISE IN THE WORKPLACE
Occupational safety and health professionals and employers can take the following actions to reduce noise in the workplace. Consider these solutions when creating your hearing loss prevention program:
- Buy Quiet - select and purchase low-noise tools and machinery
- Maintain tools and equipment routinely (such as lubricate gears)
- Reduce vibration where possible
- Isolate the noise source in an insulated room or enclosure
- Place a barrier between the noise source and the employee
- Isolate the employee from the source in a room
If you found this information beneficial, please share it with others and/or comment to add to the "Buy Quiet" initiative.
For additional information contact us. Be safe and spread the word..........Isabel