Thursday, September 16, 2010

Terms and Definitions for Hearing Conservation

Action Level- An 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels measured on the A-scale, slow response, or equivalently, a dose of fifty percent.
Audiogram - A chart, table, or graph showing hearing threshold level as a function of frequency.
Audiologist - A professional, specializing in the study of hearing, who is certified by the American Speech, Hearing, and Language Association of licensed by a state board of examiners.
Audiometer - An instrument for measuring the threshold or sensitivity of hearing.
Audiometry - The measurement of hearing.
Background Noise - The total of all noise in a system of situation, independent of the presence of the desired signal.
Baseline Audiogram - An audiogram obtained on testing after a prescribed period of quiet (at least 14 hours). The audiogram against which future audiograms are compared.
Bone Conduction (BC) - The process by which sound is transmitted to the inner ear through the bones of the skull.
Cochlea - A spirally wound tube, resembling a snail shell, which forms part of the inner ear and contains the end organ of hearing.
Criterion Sound Level - A sound level of 90 decibels.
Decibel - A unit for measuring the loudness of sound. One-tenth of a bel.
Dosimeter (Noise Dosimeter) - An instrument, which registers the occurrence and cumulative duration of noise exceeding a predetermined level at a chosen point in the environment or on a person.
Ear Protection - A device inserted into or placed over the ear in order to weaken air-conducted sounds.
Earmuff - A type of ear protector that encloses the entire outer ear.
Earplug - A type of ear protector that is inserted into the ear.
Frequency- The number of times per second that a sine wave repeats itself. It is expressed in Hertz (Hz).
Hair Cell - Sensory cells in the cochlea, which transform the sound, wave into a nerve impulse.
Hearing Conservation - Those measures, which are taken to reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.
Hearing Loss -Impairment of auditory sensitivity.
Hearing Threshold Level- The amount by which the threshold of hearing for an ear exceeds a standard audiometric reference zero.
Hertz- Unit of measurement of frequency.
Middle Ear - A small cavity next to the ear drum.
Noise - Disturbing, harmful, or unwanted sound.
Occupational Hearing Loss - A permanent hearing loss sustained in the course of following an occupation or employment.
Organ of Corti - The end organ of hearing.
Otolaryngologist - A physician specializing in diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the ear nose and throat.
Permanent Hearing Loss- Hearing loss deemed to be irrecoverable.
Permanent Threshold Shift- That component of threshold shift which shows no progressive reduction with the passage of time when the supposed cause has been removed.
Permissible Exposure Level (PEL)- A noise exposure equivalent to an 8-hour time weighted average of 90 dBA; this represents a dose of 100 percent.
Representative Exposure- Measurements of an employee's noise dose or 8-hour time-weighted average sound level that the employer deems to be representative of the exposures of other employees in that workplace.
Temporary Threshold Shift- That component of threshold shift, which shows a progressive reduction with the passage of time after the apparent cause, has been removed.
Threshold Shift- An elevation of the threshold of hearing of an ear.
Time-Weighted Average Sound Level- That sound level, which if constant over an 8-hour exposure, would result in the same noise dose as is measured.
Tinnitus- Ringing in the ear or noise sensed in the head.

Job Hazards Sample for Employees.

-Electronic Assembly Safety Hazards-

*Forklift Traffic-
Forklifts may occasionally be used inside or outside the electronic assembly area to move materials. Never walk in the path of a moving forklift. Assure eye contact is made between you and the driver when in the proximity of a forklift. Use caution when walking around a forklift even when not in use to avoid trip hazards involving the extended forks.

*Slips & Falls- Pay attention when walking in this department. Cut pieces of wire, plastic bags, or protective wrapping debris may be present on the floor and are some of the slip and fall hazards within this department.

*Compressed Air- Compressed air is occasionally used in this area to operate tools or blow of parts. Assure that when using compressed air or working around someone using compressed air that you do not enter into an area that places you in line with the direct air discharge of the operating equipment. Do not use compressed air to clean your body or the surrounding work area at any time.

*Cuts “razor knives/cutting tools”- Razor knives are occasionally used in this department for cutting operations. Equipment components themselves can posses a sharp edge that can cause a laceration if not careful. Assure proper hand protection is worn such as gloves when necessary especially if handling parts with sharp edges. Razor knives should have sharp blades that can perform a clean cut with minimal force. Do not use dull or broken blades in razor knives. Do not use knives that are home made in origin. When cutting always use a direction of cutting that is away from the body. Use care when handling tools with screw tips or cutting bits. Do not allow your fingers to enter into the spinning or moving area of a tool.

*Small Tools “saw”- Occasionally small tools that use either air or electrical power supply may be used in this department. Drills, & screw guns are examples. Always assure the tools are in proper working condition before use. Pay special attention to safety features such as trigger locks, and blade guards. Do not use tools without proper training or authorization. Do not use tools that are altered or have safety features that are inoperative, or altered.

*Heavy Lifting- Occasional lifting is performed in this department. Lifting primarily relates to the carrying of boxed parts within the department. Always grip boxes firmly to stop them from sliding, or becoming unbalanced. Use carts for transporting loads over long distances. Use care when stacking/pulling boxes of parts. Do not stack the boxes too high to cause a hazard. Use care when pulling the box to assure no parts are stacked on top. Apply proper lifting techniques.

*Electrical Hazards-
This department does have electrical testing equipment within the area. Prime examples of this are the sensor & control panel testing stations. Stay free of these areas while the testing is in progress. Do not enter the testing area unless assigned to work there. Approach the employees working the area cautiously to avoid startling them while working. Do not place yourself in precarious position within these locations.

*Chemicals “glues/primers/epoxy’s”- Chemicals are used throughout this department. Pay attention to chemical exposure. Always use all required personal protective equipment. Do not place chemicals in unlabeled containers. Store chemicals in safe areas during use that are free from heat sources. Never mix chemicals that you are not trained and authorized to use. Never mix chemical wastes.

*Hand Injuries- Hand injuries can occur in this department primarily small cuts. Use special care when handling parts with sharp edges especially sheet metal or plastic edge components. Use care when handling cutting tools to avoid cuts and punctures including snips or side cutters.

*Safety Glasses- Safety glasses are mandatory in all production areas including this department. Adequate eye protection must be worn at all times while in the plant during operation..

*Earplugs- Hearing protection is mandatory in all high dB production areas. This department is excluded but hearing protection is required when entering the remainder of the production departments. In these areas adequate hearing protection must be worn at all times, with earplugs as the minimum standard.

*Respirators/Charcoal Masks- Respirators may be used within this department at the request of the employee. Charcoal masks are also provided but not mandatory. Remember a respirator is a breathing apparatus designed to provide you the user with safe, clean, filtered air. Assure your respirator fits properly. Replace your respirator cartridges regularly. Maintain your respirator in good, clean working order. The respirator should be cleaned daily using an alcohol wipe, and stored in a plastic bag when not in use. Respirators are used in this department to protect primarily from dust or particle exposure. Never leave you respirator out and unprotected when not in use.

*Report all safety violations, accident, or incidents immediately to your supervisor.

Signed: _________________________________ Date: ____________________

Translator: ______________________________ Date: ____________________

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ideas for the Management on Safety

While I was the Plant Manager of a company with over 1200 Employees working 3 shifts, I learned a lot about people. It's easy to be in that position and lose touch with your indirect reports, so here are a few ideas that I think really work. Now you don't need to have 1200 people working under you to initiate these Idea's So, give one or all of them a try and let us know how you made out.

I made sure to get to the floor as often as possible, slowing walking around each department. As I later found out, this was frightening to the employees whom many were Hispanic. So Lesson Learned - It's advantageous to explain to your department heads and their reports that you will be coming through and not to be concerned. I am sure many of the thought Yeah right! but Actions Speak Louder Than Words. Here are some actions that worked well.
1. Never, NEVER come into a department and reprimand, or bring up any issue unless there is a safety issue that must be address right then and there. Don't over react!
2. Talk to the supervisor of the area and then the lead personally - get their input before the shift and find an employee in the department they would like to acknowledge. Mix it up, don't hit the same department on the same day or time for all matters. Make a point to get the leaders consent, Acknowledge the employee and tell them why you wanted to meet them. Don't be afraid to ask them if they would like to come off the floor and join you for a cup of coffee.
When you do get off the floor make sure to be sincer and talk about off work topics, like what they like to do when they are not at work. Tell them something about you that makes you happy. I always told them about my Wife and Son. It helped create a bond that I share with many of them today. (When I hear from them usually the question after how are you is how is Ellen and Kyle?)
There are many other things you can do and I will add more in time but I found this to be one that helped create a bond, took away fear and helped us all gain momentim on Safety in the work place.
3. Empowerment - Empower the employees to be safe, to create a safe work place and to train others. They will want to do these for you if you build a good foundation. Asking is a great way to Empower - Telling is another form of dictatorship.
4. Make a point to communicate with a few employees in each department every day. If you using the arm band technique I blogged about earlier - than Here! Here!.. Find the Red band and welcome them. They will feel wonderful. Trust me. When you see the yellow band - ask them where there muster station is in the event of an emergency. If they don't remember don't be upset - they are most likely nervous. ask the leader if you can show them both the primary and alternate evacuation route to their muster station.
5. While your walking around, take mental notes of areas of concern. Don't bring out a notebook - it will intimidate the employees. If you see something of concern that cant wait - get the supervisor and lead together and address the problem. As with any critical safety issue (take action immediately do wait to follow these suggestions. let wisdom, experience and commonsense be your guide)
5. Now you might be thinking that all this touchy feely stuff is for the birds, but seriously it's about building a foundation. Your Staff will want to go the extra mile and when your dealing with a factory or workplace with employees, you want them to do the right thing. I take it personally if someone is injured and you should too. Regardless of the circumstance - I have heard and I am sure you may have as well, "well they didn't operator the machine properly so they deserved it" WHAT!!!!! No one deserve to get injured. So Make Them Part Of The Solution.
8. Put up a Near Miss/Near Hit Box - and put forms the staff can use right next to it, Encourage participation. I realized very quickly that we had a rash of near miss slip and falls due to water on the floor from a few process in our plant. Had we not been told, we might have had a few injuries before we figured out we had a problem. The problem was corrected and the reports stopped and thankfully we did not have any reportable incidents.
In Summary
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. Acknowledge and React to employee concerns before you have an injury. BUILD A FOUNDATION - if your a leader at any level - you can build a foundation. This will greatly help you with more than just safety. EMPOWERMENT let the employees drive. and Lastly Communication - up and down the chain. Don't just have an open door policy. Have an open floor policy. Get the Executive's out of the office and onto the floor. If they don't have time - well your working for the wrong person.

Daily Departmental Refresher Training

The right way to start off the work day is to communicate the importance of safety in the work place. This only has to be a 2-5 minute all department refresher. Talking about a Near Miss, Near Hit, a violation or an Incident.

Don't be afraid to refreshing things up a bit. Many times, I met with staff and talked about Safety in the Home. Let's be for real for a minute, if you staff member decided to be unsafe at home it will effect your organization as well.

Another concept is to have each person take an active role in the daily communication. This will give them ownership, keep things fresh and you will usually learn something from it

Make this a fun time, help everyone relax and be open about their participation. Don't let it turn out to be a bitch session, but get real feed back and act on it rapidly.
This puts your money where your mouth is and it will go along way for letting everyone know that Safety is really #1 in the workplace and not some slogan on a banner the walk by.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Safety Ideas for the workplace

When you have new employees in your factory, try this concept out. This practice was extremely beneficial and it works.

Find arm bands in 3 color's.

I used Red (for the new employee) Have them wear this arm band for the first 2 days regardless of their training or qualifications. Have them continue to wear the band until they have been full trained at their work station and of the safety requirements for their job and factory. This includes emergency evacuation locations.

I used Yellow (for the same employee once trained at their work station.) They will wear this arm band for the completion of their introductory period.

And Finally I used Green (for the lead or trainer)

New employees were instructed to communicate with any person with a green arm band if they had questions about anything at the workplace.

All employees were instructed to assist any employee with a red or yellow band and help them find the restrooms, break rooms, and any thing else they might need help with. Especially to keep an extra eye on them to ensure they did not do anything unsafe.

I was amazed on how well this was accepted by all and it made it a great way for upper management to notice new people and thus allowed them to make an effort to greet these employees.

Like anything else in Manufacturing. KISS and Visual Ques take the guess work out your day. I have many other practices that worked well, give this a try. and let me know how it worked for you.