Free Online Safety and Training Courses

The state of Washington is offering some invaluable online safety and training courses on their website.  Topics include:

  • Accident Investigation
  • Safety Checklists
  • Ergonomics
  • Fall Protection
  • Janitorial Services
  • Job Safety / Hazard Analyses
  • Lockout / Tagout
  • Noise
  • Process Safety Management (PSM)
  • and much more

You can find the courses and modules on the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries website.

Free Online Training Modules in Occupational Hygiene

The Occupational Hygiene Training Association (OHTA), has created a new website,, where free course materials for international occupational hygiene training modules are posted.  Find training materials, learn about occupational hygiene, or develop your existing skillset.

Modules currently available include:

  • Noise
  • Asbestos
  • Measurement of Hazardous Substances
  • Health Effects of Hazardous Substances
  • Control of Hazardous Environments
  • Thermal Environments
  • Ergonomics
  • Basic Principles of Occupational Hygiene

According to the website, OHTA mission is as follows:

OHTA was formed to promote better standards of occupational hygiene practice throughout the world.  We develop training materials and make them freely available for use by students and training providers.  We also promote an international qualifications framework so that all hygienists are trained to a consistent, high standard, recognized in all participating countries.

AIHA Podcasts: Combustible Dust, CIH Certification, Noise

Have you checked out AIHA’s Safe & Sound Podcast lately? Very good information being delivered by Craig & Melissa at AIHA. Take a listen at home, work, or in the car (all files are .mp3 format).

Some of the latest highlights include:

Combustible Dust

John Astad, Director and Research Analyst of the Combustible Dust Policy Institute, joins Safe & Sound to educate us about combustible dust. Most recently Mr. Astad’s incident data was utilized in OSHA’s proposed combustible dust rulemaking (ANPRM), so stakeholders can understand the probability of occurrence in the industrial sector. The Combustible Dust Policy Institute and Mr. Astad’s work can be found at

CIH Certification & ABIH

Craig & Melissa talk about the CIH certification, and how to get certified with Torey Nalbone, PhD, CIH, the newly elected Chair of the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH). Dr. Nalbone provides Safe & Sound with some insights as to what the ABIH is doing and what his goals are as the Chair.


Melissa and Craig discuss noise induced hearing loss, the Noise Reduction Ratings (NRR) update, and general noise safety that you can practice everyday with Lee Hager, a Noise Conservationist for 3M. Lee lets us know that there is such thing as over protection and tells us that if you listen to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones at full volume (like they should be) you may want to take a break in order to preserve your hearing.


Online Tool: Is Your Hearing Protection Providing Adequate Attenuation?

hearing_protectionAn extremely useful field tool to determine if you are achieving adequate attenuation with your hearing protection has been devised by NIOSH.  Have you used this in your workplace?  How successful has it been?  Let us know in the comments section of this post.

Loud noise can permanently damage your hearing. It especially affects the sounds that help you understand speech.

Earmuffs, earplugs, and other hearing protection devices can reduce your risk of hearing loss, but only if you get a good fit and wear them properly.

Follow the instructions for the sound player on the right side of this page to perform a quick test of whether you are getting at least a minimal 15 decibel (dB) level of protection.

How it Works

The test sounds are bands of random noise with a center frequency of 1000 Hz. This is the same type of sound used in standard hearing protector ratings including the “American National Standard Methods for Measuring the Real-Ear Attenuation of Hearing Protectors” (ANSI S12.6). Both tracks are the same, but the second track is 15 decibels (dB) louder than the first. Most hearing protectors will block or “attenuate” sound by more than 15 dB if they are the right size and shape to fit your ears and are worn correctly. A sound that is barely audible at your threshold of hearing without hearing protection should be inaudible though hearing protection even if it’s boosted by 15 dB.

Online or Offline Testing:

You can also download the test sounds to check your hearing protection offline with an MP3 player or computer multimedia player. Download or play online, these two tracks:

Track 1: Without Hearing Protection NIOSH QuickFit Without HPD
Track 2: With Hearing Protection NIOSH QuickFit With HPD

For online testing, click the links, goto the .mp3 page, then click the file. Quicktime (or the program you have installed on your computer) will play the file. To download the files for offline testing, right-click the link and choose “Save File As…” or similar selection from the menu.

Continue Reading for the Instructions…


Ask the Expert: Low Noise Attenuation Earplugs


Ask the Expert:  Elliott Berger, author and editor of The Noise Manual (available at AIHA press or Amazon), recently commented on the use of low attenuation ear plugs for use in industry on the Yahoo Groups AIHA listserv.

In looking over recent posts on low-attenuation earplugs I was pleased to see awareness of the issue of over protection. The E-A-R Hi-Fi earplug was mentioned and indeed that is one moderately priced alternative to obtain less attenuation and a more neutral attenuation characteristic that sounds more natural. Unfortunately there are limited choices in this regard today since there isn’t much pull through from the occupational community. In fact, 3M used to sell the Hi-Fi earplug in the industrial market at the UltraTech (and still does in Europe), but in the US there is so much emphasis on high NRRs that it was difficult to garner interest. Today you can find them at various online retailers.

Another excellent uniform attenuation/moderate attenuation hearing protector, in fact the ultimate embodiment of that style is the Etymotic ER-15 Musician’s earplug. It is truly exceptional but will set you back about $150 per pair. It is cost justified for certain occupations such as musicians where the best fidelity is required. Go to to learn more.

To learn more about the effects of HPDs on communications see EARLog 13 found here:

Elliott H. Berger
Senior Scientist, Auditory Research
3M Occupational Health & Environmental Safety Division
7911 Zionsville Road
Indianapolis, IN 46268-1657
317-692-3031 w
866-428-3942 f
317-752-0614 c

Courtesy of Elliott Berger

NHCA Petitions OSHA to Lower PEL for Noise

hearing_protectionView OHShub’s previous post about AIHA petioning OSHA:  HERE

Citing the fact that nearly 22 million American workers are exposed to hazardous noise on a daily basis and that occupational hearing loss continues to plague industry, the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) has made a request to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for noise exposures.

“Noise-induced hearing loss is an insidious, permanent, and irreversible disease which has a tremendous negative impact on people’s lives. The good news is that this disease is 100% preventable,” said Rick Neitzel, PhD, CIH, NHCA President. “The bad news is that OSHA’s 30-year-old noise exposure regulation is not consistent with current scientific knowledge, is not uniformly applied across all industries, and has not proven effective in preventing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).”

NHCA has requested that OSHA lower the PEL in the Occupation Noise Standard 29 CFR 1910.95 from 90 dBA to 85 dBA, and the Action Level from 85 to 80 dBA. Citing recent research by NIOSH and other organizations, American workers face a considerable risk of NIHL associated with long-term work at the current PEL of 90 dBA and a 5 dB time/intensity exchange rate. NHCA has also requested that the time/intensity exchange rate be reduced from 5 to 3 dB.


Webinar: Applications of Noise Measurements

What You Will Learn:

Quest Technologies, a 3M company, invites you to learn how to look beyond noise exposure to apply noise measurements as part of a hearing conservation solution. Upon completion of this webinar, attendees will have an increased understanding of how to apply four core components to answer the questions below and fine-tune their hearing conservation program.

* How do I detect noise exposure?
* How do I analyze noise measurements and select the correct hearing protection for my employees?
* How do I empower my employees and make them part of the solution? Are there tools and/or signage that will help me educate my workers on noise exposure?
* How do I eliminate excessive noise completely?


James Banach, Executive Vice President
Quest Technologies, a 3M company

James has been professionally involved in hearing conservation and noise measurement for over 25 years. He is the past chair for the Council for Accreditation of Occupational Hearing Conservationists, is past president of the National Hearing Conservation Association and past chair of the American Industrial Hygiene Association Noise Committee. James has presented lectures at both NHCA and AIHA conferences and taught professional development courses for AIHA. He has degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and the Keller Graduate School of Management.

This presentation will begin on December 03, 2009 at 02:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.  More information and to sign up can be found at OHSOnline HERE.

NIOSH Powertools Database – Noise & Vibration

nioshlogoNIOSH has developed an online database of sound levels and vibration forces for various power tools typically used in the occupational setting. Developed by NIOSH researchers, the database provides information for over 120 power tools from manufactures such as Black & Decker, Mikita and Dewalt. According to NIOSH, “The database is particularly helpful in determining the ‘real-world’ noise level of power tools as they are used on the job.”


For each tool, the database contains a Summary Sheet of results from both “loaded” and “unloaded” testing phases (click HERE for an example). Additionally, the database provides recordings of the noise levels for each of the power tools.

AIHA Petitions OSHA for Lowering Noise PEL, Again

aihaAIHA, in a letter to Jordan Barab of OSHA, strongly encouraged OSHA to consider reducing the 8-hour TWA for noise from 90 dBA to 85 dBA and a 3 decibel exchange rate. A copy of the letter, dated April 28, 2009, can be found HERE. The letter is very similar to one AIHA submitted to Edwin Foulke of OSHA in March of 2007. A copy of this letter can be found HERE.

Is a reduction in the noise PEL on the horizon?

PEL Adjustments for Extended Work Shifts – Noise

osha-interpretationsThe purpose of this memorandum is to resolve issues concerning adjustments of the PEL during extended work shifts. This applies for exposures to the noise levels of Table G-16 of 29 CFR 1910.95 or substances found in Subpart Z. Current OSHA policy requires only the action level to be reduced for exposures to noise during extended work shifts; the PEL is not required to be adjusted. The only standards which require PEL adjustments are the lead standards in construction and general industry. These standards have a specific provision which requires work shift adjustments. Existing policy for Occupational Exposure to Cotton Dust also has a requirement to adjust extended work shifts when employees are required to wear respirators for a portion of the work shift to reduce their level of exposure, as set forth in the Federal Register, Vol. 45, No. 251, pp. 85736-85739. The contribution that the extended work hours adds to employee exposure must be included in calculating the required time respirators must be worn during the shift.

As stated in a previous memorandum dated November 8, 1996:

Compliance officers can choose one of two approaches for employees who work extended work shifts beyond 8 hours. The choice taken will depend on the nature of the hazardous chemical.

  1. The first approach is to sample what the compliance officer believes to be the worst continuous 8-hour work period of the entire extended work shift.
  2. The second approach is to collect multiple samples over the entire work shift. Sampling is done such that multiple personal samples are collected during the first 8-hour work period and additional samples are collected for the extended work shift. Unless a compliance officer is dealing with lead, the PEL in this approach is calculated based upon the worst 8 hours of exposure during the entire work shift.

We hope you find this clarification helpful. If you have any questions or if we can be of any further assistance, please contact the Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190.

A link to the memo can be found HERE