Archive for September, 2020

Have You Heard? October is National Protect Your Hearing Month

October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. The annual observance is a time to learn about noise-induced hearing loss and ways to prevent it. Being exposed to loud noise can cause immediate or gradual hearing loss or other damage in one or both ears. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that hearing loss due to loud noise may affect up to 24 percent of American adults under age 70.

Protecting Truck Drivers from Hearing Loss

Truck drivers work in places that may expose them to extremely loud noise. This includes terminal yards, maintenance shops, warehouses, construction areas, and airports. Sirens, engine brakes, passing vehicles, motorcycles, and jack hammers are also common sources of loud noise on the road. Then there is the ambient combined sound of engine, exhaust, and tires that enters the cab, especially in older trucks. This all makes it hard to hear conversations, warning signals, and vehicle malfunctions even without a hearing impairment. Hearing loss makes things much worse.

Decibel (dB) units measure loudness. Sound levels over 80 decibels are harmful to the human ear. A diesel truck located 50 feet away can produce sound that measures over 90 dB. Vehicles with defective exhaust systems and other faulty parts can increase noise. In-cab noise levels in standard tractors can easily exceed 90 dB when the windows are open and the radio is on. Daily workplace noise exposures should stay within NIOSH recommended exposure limits to prevent hearing loss. Higher noise levels have lower exposure limits, and lower noises levels have higher limits. For example, if the exposure level is 91 dB, workers should only be exposed for two hours. An increase to 94 dB lowers the exposure limit to 60 minutes.

Protecting your drivers’ hearing will prevent ear injury and benefit their overall health. In Washington State, employers are required to train employees who work near loud noise about the hazards of noise-induced hearing loss and steps they can take to protect themselves. The following hearing protection tips and resources can help:

  • Identify, eliminate, or control noise sources when possible.
  • Wear hearing protection such as earplugs at loud delivery and loading sites as long as it does not reduce your ability to hear warning signals, moving vehicles, and other workers.
  • Rely more on visual assessments if inspecting vehicle while wearing hearing protection.

Cab

  • Keep windows closed while driving if possible.
  • Keep radio volume to a low level.
  • Soundproof your cab.

Truck and trailer

  • Keep vehicle noise-suppression systems, such as exhaust mufflers, in good serviceable condition.
  • Maintain vehicle and trailer equipment to eliminate vibrations, squeaks, and rattling.
  • Install aerodynamic fairing to reduce wind noise.

Free hearing protection resources:

NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention website

Free NIOSH Sound Level Meter App

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries Noise and Hearing Protection

OSHA Occupational Noise Exposure website

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The 2020 Governor’s Industrial Safety & Health Conference Will Be Online September 21-25

The 69th Annual Governor’s Industrial Safety & Health Conference will take place online September 21-25, due to COVID-19. The conference offers training and education on the latest tools, technologies, and strategies to improve workplace safety and health. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries and the Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board (GISHAB) sponsor the conference.

This year’s virtual event will feature 25 cutting-edge sessions presented by safety and health experts from many fields. Many sessions will present the latest information on COVID-19 and how companies are managing their workplaces under the pandemic. Session recordings will also be available on demand for 30 days. The conference’s keynote speaker will be top mind wellness and burnout expert, Jessica Rector, whose career highlights have included hosting a TV talk show and winning a #1 sales performer award at a Fortune 100 company. Jessica’s presentation will cover managing workforce burnout and stress. Optional pre-conference training classes on September 21 will offer in-depth opportunities to learn about climate change and worker health and the telecommunications competent person-rule. Don’t miss out!

Event details and online registration are available on the conference website. Online pre-registration is $225 per person for the general conference. A $50 discount rate is available for students and apprentices. Register early because rates increase on September 22.

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National Truck Driver Appreciation Week 2020 is September 13-19.

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is a time to pause and reflect on the importance of truck drivers in keeping the country moving. Our everyday lives depend on them, especially their crucial role during the COVID-19 pandemic. Truck drivers transport food, clothing, electronics, medical supplies, construction materials, and just about everything else that we need. Without truck drivers, our world would come to a grinding halt. A truck driver is someone who performs a job that requires commitment, professionalism, safety awareness, and plenty of sacrifice that includes working long periods away from home and family. So next time you see a truck driver, say thank you.

For more ways to show your appreciation for truck drivers, visit the American Trucking Associations’ National Truck Driver Appreciation Week website.

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Are You Ready? September is National Preparedness Month

News headlines remind us every day about wildfires, tornados, hurricanes, power outages, and other disasters. Preparation is key to getting through such events, especially now as COVID-19 makes responding to emergencies much harder. National Preparedness Month promotes disaster planning to help people prepare and stay ready for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools, and communities. Each week features a different focus:

National Preparedness Month began in 2004 as a sponsored program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Emergency Plans for Trucking

Trucking companies know that their drivers can find themselves in a disaster emergency at any moment. Drivers also face additional risks as essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Taking steps to prepare drivers can minimize the impacts of a disaster on their safety and health, not to mention your business operations.

The best way to prepare is by having an emergency action plan policy in your company’s safety program. In Washington State, companies are required to have employee emergency plans and fire prevention plans.

Plans must provide employees the knowledge, skill training, and resources needed to respond appropriately to emergencies. You should tailor your plan around the emergencies most likely to affect your employees in company buildings, customer sites, and while driving. Make sure you will be able to support and communicate with employees and their families during an emergency.

Your plan should also include resources to help employees and their families deal with stress during or after a traumatic event, such as giving them access to an employee assistance program. Consult your employees when putting your plan together, their input can make it more effective.   Visit KeepTruckingSafe.org to get safety program resources and many other free safety and health training materials for truck drivers.

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