Free Online Hearing Loss Recording and more

You know that you’ve told them again and again to wear hearing protection in high noise areas; you’ve made earplugs and earmuffs available and done everything you can think of to protect your employees hearing but you still catch certain employees working without any hearing protection. What more can you do?

Well, you can talk till you’re blue in the face, but as you’ve already experienced, it doesn’t do much good. Try letting them hear for themselves for a change!

Aearo Corporation has made 5 different audio programs available for free on their website. Unlike what you’ve been doing by lecturing, these programs let workers hear for themselves what it sounds like when hearing loss damage has occurred.

Let them hear the sound of a high pitched squeak that results from tinnitus. Let them listen to hear how sensitive their ears still are (1 db change in sound versus 10 db changes in sound). Let them listen to the sounds of nature (birds, babbling brook, wind, etc…) as it sounds from a healthy ear and from one that has suffered hearing loss. Let them do the same for music and other every day sounds. Finally let them experience what it sounds like to listen to ordinary speech with damaged ears.

What I’ve just described above is only the first of the five audio clips available free from the Aearo website.

All of the programs are available using Windows Media Player or can be requested (at no charge) directly from Aearo. The internet versions allow you to audition the programs to determine their suitability; for best quality the CD versions are recommended.

Programs 1 and 2 come on one CD (Product Code 70–0715–6978–7) or two separate audio cassettes (Product Codes 70–0715–6975–3 – Audio and Hearing Loss Demo, and 70–0715–6977–9 – Listening in Noise). These can be requested by contacting Customer Service by calling 800–225–9038.

Programs 3 (lecture) and 4 and 5 (radio interviews) are available only on CD. To request contact Cyd Kladden .

1. Audio and Hearing Loss Demonstrations (15 min)



2. Listening in Noise: The Virtues of High-Fidelity Hearing Protectors (16 min)



3. The intimacy of sound: Acoustical literacy and the joy of hearing (1 hr)


4. Radio interview broadcast in the summer of 2004 on WNYU radio (30 min)


5. Interview for GiantEar Web Radio in April 2006 (33 min)



If actions speak louder than words, so do these video clips.

Updated NFPA 1600 standard for emergency preparedness available free online

The NFPA 1600 Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs is one on the most widely implement NFPA standards. This is partly due to the fact that the NFPA has traditionally made it available online for free.

The revised 2010 standard is no exception. You can purchase a hard copy for $37.00 (#33.30 for NFPA Members) or you can view the standard for free on the NFPA website here.

While there are no major changes, the new 2010 standard expands on the 2007 standard with clarifications, expanded definitions and technical requirements.

The NFPA 1600 standard is an essential tool for any size business. It has been adopted and endorsed by the U.S. Department of homeland security as well as the DHS.

Students Drive Home the Point on Safety

If you haven’t checked out do so right away. Click on 2009 Safety videos and have a look at the three video clips created by High School and secondary students in partnership with the workplace safety and Insurance Board in Canada.

Short and to the point, these videos would be a great addition to your next safety meeting. They don’t take long to watch but they serve as a poignant reminder about the need to stop and think about safety before proceeding with the task at hand.

While you’re there, click on the resources tab for great links and lists of safety related material. The Connect tab is also worth a visit if only for a look at the Workplace stories.

Time spent on this website is time well spent, especially for students entering the workplace.

The Basics of Scaffold Safety (Part 4)

Protection from debris and falling objects

  • Workers should always wear a hard hat where there is danger from overhead objects falling.
  • There must be a 3 1/2 ” toe board to keep objects, tools, etc… from falling off the scaffolding.
  • Debris netting can also be used, especially when there are objects that are over 3 ½” tall
  • Pedestrians should be kept clear of scaffolding. If the scaffolding is in a public area, walkways should be set up to divert them away from the scaffolding whenever and wherever possible. If pedestrians still will be going under or near scaffolding, debris netting must be used to protect them from falling objects.

Protection from Electric Power Lines

See the “Working Outdoors around Electricity” post for a complete breakdown of the safety rules regarding scaffold work and overhead power lines.


For Further Information

Much of the information for this section of “The Basics of …” series (go to and click on the various sections to view and download the other sections) has been taken from documents and web pages available on the following websites:

The Basics of Scaffold Safety (Part 3)

Fall related issues with scaffolding

Falls from scaffolding can occur in one of several ways:

  1. While getting on or off of the scaffold
  2. While installing and putting up the scaffold
  3. While working on the scaffold

OSHA mandates that whenever a worker is more than 10 feet off the ground on a scaffold he must be protected from falls either with a Personal Fall Arrest System (PFAS) or with guardrails.

Personal Fall Arrest Systems is covered in a separate document (see the fall protection section of our website to download “The Basics of Fall Protection“) so we will focus on the guardrail part of the mandate.

OSHA requires the following for scaffolding guardrails:

  1. Guardrails must be installed on all platforms that are less than 18″ wide.
  2. Guardrails must be installed along the side of the exposed edge as well as on the ends of the working platform.
  3. Guardrails must be 38″ – 45″ in height.
  4. There must be a midrail between the top of the guardrail and the platform.
  5. Toeboards must be at least 3 ½ ” tall

The Basics of Scaffold Safety (Part 2)

Guidelines for scaffolding

OSHA sets the following guidelines for scaffolding:

  1. Inspecting the scaffold – A competent person MUST inspect the scaffold before each shift and/or after any changes to the scaffold (“Changes” can be the result of weather, impact, damage, etc… Any time that the nature of the scaffold might have changed, an inspection is required).
  2. Scaffold Access – If the platform is over 2 feet off the ground (or whatever level you are erecting the scaffold) than a means of access (ladder, ramp, hoist) must be provided. The means of access cannot be more than 14″ away from the scaffold.
  3. Weather related issues – Ice and/or snow must be removed before workers are allowed to use the scaffold. Only the personnel that is working to remove the snow and/or ice is allowed on the scaffold until the snow and/or ice has been removed and the scaffold is safe to work on. Additionally, OSHA mandates that you workers are not allowed to work on scaffolding during storms or high winds unless the competent person says that it is safe to do so.
  4. Electrical Issues – Scaffolding is to be kept at least 10 feet away from overhead active power lines for power lines over 300 volts and 3 feet for power lines under 300 volts.

Erecting and checking the scaffolding

  1. Scaffold must be on a firm foundation
  2. Scaffold must be able to support at least 4 times the intended weight. For hanging scaffolds, the flexible supports must be designed to hold at least 6 times the intended weight.
  3. The scaffold must be level
  4. Vertical posts and frames must be vertical and they must be braced to prevent swaying.
  5. If a scaffold is more than 4 times as high as the base is wide, it must be tied to supports.
  6. Only unpainted wooden planks are to be used for the platform. This is so that visual inspection will detect any cracks.
  7. Ten foot planks must extend at least 6″ beyond the end of the support but no more than 12″
  8. The gap between planks on the platform can be no more than 1″

Ergonomic Tip of the Week # 12

Exercises for the Upper Body – While seated, let your arms hang off the sides of the chair. Lean your head as far as it will go to the right (try to touch right ear to right shoulder). Hold for a count of 5, and then do the same motion to the left side. Repeat 5 times. Do not stretch the neck to a point where it feels uncomfortable or pain is experienced.

The ergonomic tip of the day is provided by Ken Oswald at

The Basics of Scaffold Safety (Part 1)

Drive through any major city and, wherever construction is taking place, you will see cranes and scaffolding. Scaffolding allows workers to do what they need to do at the right height without having to expose them to unnecessary risk. Scaffolding can, however, be a hazard unless it is set up used properly. OSHA estimates that 60 people die each year from scaffold accidents. A proper understanding of scaffold “how-to” and safety is essential.

OSHA defines a scaffold as: “an elevated, temporary work platform” which, of course, includes a number of different structures.

  1. A supported scaffold – This is the scaffold that most of us visualize when we are talking about scaffolding. This is a “structure” that is put together from the ground up. Platforms of wood or whatever else is approved, is supported with rigid beams, frames and/or poles.
  2. A suspended scaffold – Unlike the supported scaffold which goes from the ground up, the suspended scaffold is suspended from the top down. The working platform are essentially “hung” with flexible (rope, wire, etc…) from an overhead support.
  3. Lifts – This “scaffold” (we don’t usually think of this type as a real scaffold per say) is movable. In this category we include “cherry pickers”, forklift baskets and boom trucks.

Identifying the hazards

  1. Collapse or failure – if the scaffolding has not been properly installed, put together correctly and/or test adequately, there is a danger that one or more parts of the structure will fail. This may be a vertical frame or support that wasn’t adequately attached or welded, it may be a plank that was rotting or cracked or any number of other structural failures.
  2. Debris and falling objects – Because the nature of scaffolding work is “tiered” there is an increase danger of overhead debris, tools, etc… falling from the platform or work area overhead.
  3. Electrical Hazards – Because scaffolds are most commonly erected around buildings that are supplied with electrical power, there is the added danger of electrocution from overhead power lines.
  4. Slips and Falls – Because scaffolding work is work that is elevated, workers are in danger of slipping and falling off the scaffolding. Basic issues of fall protection and fall arrest come into play with this particular form of hazard.

A Better Sign?

My wife and I got away for 2 nights this week. We went to a nice resort, turned off the laptop and the cell phone and did nothing but relax. It was awesome!

I don’t tell you all this to make you jealous but rather as a lead in to our topic today which is signs. While we were going for a walk at this resort, we spotted a sign that said “Unattended children will be given a double espresso and a puppy”.

As funny as this is, this got me to thinking about how much more effective that sign probably is. The resort could have said “Do not leave your children unattended” but I’m betting that the humorous sign is probably more effective.

France found this out a few years back with their “No Parking” signs. Instead of putting up “No Parking” they started posting signs that read essentially “If you park here, you will be in the way”. If may not be humorous but it does take the “bossy” edge off. They started to find that fewer people parked in the no parking areas.

There is a joke about the way the French people respond to being told not to do something that goes like this:

French, English and Americans paratroopers were being trained. When it came time to jump, however, all three groups frozen in fear, wouldn’t jump. Finally, to get the English to jump the leader yelled “Jump for the Queen!”. All the English jumped. The Americans wouldn’t jump for Obama. They tried everything until finally someone yelled “Krispy Kreme donuts when you land” and all the Americans jumped.

Nothing seemed to work for the French, however. They weren’t going to jump for the president, for French bread, cheese and wine (though it did get them closer to the open door). Finally, exasperated, the leader yelled “Fine! Don’t jump then!”

You guessed it, the French jumped.

Truth is that human nature (not just French nature) immediately rankles at being told not to do something. The two-year old toddler who yells “no!” is still alive and well in each one of us. Signs that phrase things in a humorous manner or in a way that doesn’t make it sound like a bossy parent take the edge off. I find that I respond differently myself. I don’t want to stop someone else from getting to where they are going by parking in front of their driveway so if it’s phrased that way, I tend to be more willing to not park there. When, however, I’m told “Don’t!” the two-year old in me comes out and I want to do it just because (This may be the French in me as I was raised in Paris, but I suspect that it has more to do with human nature then anything ethnic).

There is, of course, a time and a place for clear “DANGER” signs that aren’t try to be tactful or humorous but my question is, is there a way to increase compliance by finding a way to rephrase the signs to appeal to our better nature instead of applying to our rebellious nature?

Anyone have any experience with this? Comments?