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Noise Management - Making the Most of Resources

 By John C. Dolehanty

Spring 2006

Do you work at a company that enjoys an unlimited health & safety budget?  Are you constantly complaining about having more resources for your Hearing Conservation Program (HCP) than you know what to do with?  Of course not!  (Nice dream though, right!)  In today’s business climate, getting more accomplished with fewer resources is no longer the exception, it’s the rule.  Therefore, it’s imperative that every dollar and every minute applied toward preventing employee hearing loss is spent wisely.

So how can you get the most out of your Hearing Conservation Program (HCP) with a limited budget and limited resources?  The key is to apply a managed approach.  This provides a framework and points of reference to evaluate your actions.  The four steps below show the parts of a managed process approach. 


Noise Management Process



  • Assess.  – Take the time to define your starting point.  Know what the minimum requirements are, and ensure you are meeting them.  You cannot make qualified decisions without all the right starting information. 

  • Prioritize.  Always apply resources in a manner where you’ll be getting the ‘most bang for the buck’.  Areas where you are deficient or ineffective should be addressed first.  

  • Define.  You should always be prepared to justify your use of company resources.  Funding and resources can be cut in the future if you can’t demonstrate that you’re getting results.  Conversely, you are more apt to get additional funding if you are able to clearly show your successes.

  • Improve.  Never rest on you laurels.  Always contemplate new ways to get better results using fewer resources.  This requires ‘outside the box’ thinking.  Update current procedures.  Install new technologies.  Find a better way.

Customer satisfaction and employee health & safety are top priorities at every successful company.  The secret is to keep employees safe and well without sacrificing the viability of the company.  Spending your limited company resources unnecessarily or unwisely can increase the overall risk of employee hearing loss. 

This notwithstanding, it needs stating that you must be prepared to request more resources if you cannot meet the minimum requirements set out by the 29 CFR 1910.95 Federal Noise Standard (or your company’s requirements, if they are more stringent than the Federal guidelines).

Tips for Making the Most of Your Resources

·    Take Control of the Process – You know better than anyone what resources are at your disposal.  Do your homework, know what you need.

·    Take advantage of opportunities – New equipment purchases represent the best time to lower noise levels.  Take the necessary steps to ensure that noise is considered as part of the design process.

·    Be discriminating – Two aspects that are sometimes at odds with each other are exposure monitoring and audiometric testing.  Both are important, but what is the right balance for your company.  Will a detailed employee exposure assessment allow you to minimize audiometric costs?  Will including every employee in the Hearing Conservation Program allow you to minimize your monitoring costs?  Does it require a balance?

·     Listen to your employees – Your employees are the ones that have to live with the decisions that you make.  Before investing in hearing protection or noise control, get feedback from the people that will be most affected.  They will be the true test as to whether implementation succeeds or fails.

·    Ask Questions – If you employ experts to assist you, make sure that they understand the way you conduct business.  Recommendations are unique to situations, cultures and people.  The experts you choose give you guidance based on your inputs, they are not infallible. 

Mr. Dolehanty is the President of Phase To, Inc., and has over 18 years of experience in hearing conservation and noise control.  Mr. Dolehanty can be reached at (517) 886-9379 and at johndolehanty@phaseto.com.



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