Category Archives: Hearing Conservation

Prioritizing Women’s Hearing Health: The Imperative of Correctly Fitted Hearing Protection

In today’s workplaces, ensuring the safety and well-being of all employees, regardless of gender, is paramount. However, when it comes to hearing protection, the one-size-fits-all approach falls short, particularly for women. Workplace Integra’s Dr. Michele Alexander, a renowned Doctor of Audiology, aptly emphasizes this point, stating, “Unfortunately, the selection of hearing protection is not a ‘what is good for a goose is good for a gander’ type of situation.” In light of this, this essay explores the critical importance of providing correctly fitted hearing protection for women in the workforce, echoing Dr. Alexander’s call to invest in female workers’ hearing healthcare needs.

1. Tailored Protection for Women: Dr. Alexander’s assertion challenges the misconception that hearing protection can be standardized across genders. Women’s smaller ear canals necessitate specialized solutions that cater to their unique anatomical requirements. Without appropriately fitted hearing protection, female employees are at risk of inadequate noise attenuation, exposing them to the dangers of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and related health complications.

2. Achieving Maximum Protection: The effectiveness of hearing protection hinges on correct usage. Dr. Alexander emphasizes that the “best hearing protector is the one that is worn correctly and consistently.” Ill-fitted protection not only compromises comfort but also undermines its ability to provide optimal noise reduction. For female workers, this raises concerns about their ability to achieve maximum protection and mitigate the risk of NIHL in noisy work environments.

3. Investing in Women’s Hearing Healthcare: Recognizing the importance of tailored hearing protection for women is a proactive step towards prioritizing their health and safety in the workplace. Dr. Alexander urges employers to view their female workforce’s hearing healthcare needs with the same level of importance as their male counterparts. Investing in correctly fitted hearing protection signifies a commitment to inclusivity and equity, ensuring that all employees have access to the necessary resources to protect their auditory health.

4. Promoting Consistency and Compliance: Comfort plays a pivotal role in encouraging consistent use of hearing protection. Dr. Alexander’s insight underscores the importance of providing women with options that prioritize both effectiveness and comfort. When female employees are equipped with hearing protection that fits correctly and feels comfortable, they are more likely to wear it consistently, thereby reducing their risk of NIHL and promoting overall well-being.

5. Fostering a Culture of Safety and Empowerment: Beyond regulatory compliance, investing in correctly fitted hearing protection for women fosters a culture of safety and empowerment in the workplace. By acknowledging and addressing the unique needs of female employees, employers demonstrate a commitment to creating a supportive and inclusive environment where all workers feel valued and respected.

Dr. Michele Alexander’s perspective highlights the urgent need for tailored solutions in hearing protection for women in the workforce. As employers strive to create safer and healthier workplaces, it is imperative to heed her call to invest in female workers’ hearing healthcare needs. By prioritizing correctly fitted hearing protection, employers not only mitigate the risk of NIHL but also demonstrate a commitment to equity, inclusivity, and the well-being of all employees, regardless of gender.

Navigating Noise Measurement: Evaluating Smartphone Noise Meters and the Role of Professional Hearing Conservation Companies

In today’s bustling world, concerns about the impact of noise on human health have spurred the development of various tools and technologies for measuring and mitigating noise exposure. Among these tools are smartphone-based noise meters, which promise convenience and accessibility. However, questions linger regarding their accuracy, particularly concerning apps like the NIOSH Sound Level Meter. While these smartphone apps offer valuable insights, they may not always provide the level of accuracy needed, especially in critical environments. In such cases, turning to professional hearing conservation companies like Workplace Integra becomes essential. This essay explores the accuracy of smartphone noise meters, focusing on the NIOSH app, while also advocating for the role of professional companies in ensuring comprehensive hearing conservation.

Understanding Smartphone Noise Meters:

Smartphone noise meters utilize the device’s microphone to capture ambient sound levels and convert them into decibel measurements. The NIOSH app, endorsed by a reputable organization, is one such tool. However, factors such as microphone quality, software algorithms, and environmental conditions can influence the accuracy of these measurements. While smartphone noise meters offer convenience, their limitations must be acknowledged.

Factors Influencing Accuracy:

1. Microphone Quality and Calibration: Variations in microphone sensitivity and frequency response can introduce inaccuracies in measurements. Calibration is essential to align the smartphone noise meter with calibrated equipment.

2. Software Algorithms: Algorithms used to process audio data and calculate decibel levels vary in effectiveness. Users should be aware of the limitations of these algorithms, especially in filtering out background noise.

3. Environmental Factors: Ambient noise levels, acoustics, and distance from the sound source can impact readings. Additionally, external factors like wind or mechanical vibrations may interfere with microphone performance, affecting accuracy.

Evaluating the NIOSH App:

Personally I have found the NIOSH app to be very accurate and easy to use. The NIOSH app absolutely should be in your tool box of tools to evaluate high noise levels in your facility and help make decisions on whether to bring in a third party to perform a professional evaluation. However, users should interpret its readings with caution, especially in critical applications. Independent validation against professional-grade equipment is advisable to ensure reliability.

Role of Professional Hearing Conservation Companies:

Professional companies, such as Workplace Integra, offer comprehensive services for managing noise exposure and protecting hearing health. These companies employ trained professionals equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to conduct thorough noise assessments, provide tailored recommendations, and implement effective control measures. Investing in the services of such companies ensures optimal protection for auditory well-being in demanding environments

Smartphone noise meters offer convenience and accessibility in monitoring noise exposure, but their accuracy may be limited by various factors. While they raise awareness about noise-related health risks, critical applications demand higher levels of accuracy. In such cases, partnering with professional hearing conservation companies like Workplace Integra is essential. By leveraging expertise and advanced equipment, these companies ensure comprehensive hearing conservation, mitigating potential risks effectively. As technology evolves, collaboration between smartphone apps and professional services can further enhance noise management strategies, ultimately safeguarding auditory well-being in diverse environments.

Workplace INTEGRA

When Do I Need to Start a Hearing Conservation Program?


Hearing Conservation Programs are essential for safeguarding the hearing health of workers exposed to high noise levels in the workplace. These programs aim to prevent noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and promote overall well-being. According to Brooke Stott, Au.D., CCC-A, CPS/A an Occupational Audiologist at Workplace INTEGRA, “A good rule of thumb for estimating how loud your work environment is to use the 3-foot rule.  If you’re standing 3 feet from an individual, or approximately arm’s length away, and you have to yell to be heard over the noise this indicates noise levels are likely 85 dBA or higher and a noise exposure assessment may be necessary to ensure your employees are protected.”

Let’s break down the key aspects of when and how to initiate a Hearing Conservation Program.

Determining the Need

Noise Exposure Levels

The first step is to assess the noise exposure levels in your workplace. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standard 29 CFR 1910.95, a Hearing Conservation Program is required when:

  • Employees are exposed to an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) noise level of 85 decibels (dB) or higher.
  • The noise exposure exceeds a peak sound level of 115 dB (measured in any 15-minute period).

Seeking Expertise

When evaluating the necessity of a Hearing Conservation Program, organizations often turn to qualified professionals who specialize in occupational health and safety. Here’s how their involvement can enhance the process:

Noise Exposure Assessment:

  • Audiologists or occupational health consultants can conduct thorough noise exposure assessments.
    • They use advanced equipment, including precision sound level meters and dosimeters, to measure noise levels accurately.
    • These professionals analyze data and provide precise information about exposure risks.

Site-Specific Evaluation:

  • Outside experts perform on-site evaluations tailored to your workplace.
    • They consider factors such as machinery, work processes, and employee tasks.
    • Their expertise ensures a comprehensive understanding of noise sources.

Compliance with Regulations:

  • Regulations regarding noise exposure can be complex.
    • Audiologists stay up-to-date with local, state, and federal guidelines.
    • They help organizations comply with OSHA standards and other relevant regulations.

Customized Solutions:

  • Professionals collaborate with employers to develop customized solutions.
    • These may include engineering controls (such as noise barriers), administrative measures (like job rotation), and personal protective equipment (PPE).
    • Their recommendations align with the specific needs of your workforce.

Audiometric Testing Oversight:

  • Audiologists or licensed hearing conservationists oversee audiometric testing.
    • They ensure accurate testing procedures and interpret results.
    • Regular follow-up assessments are crucial for identifying early signs of hearing loss.


Contracting outside professionals enhances the accuracy and effectiveness of your Hearing Conservation Program. Their expertise ensures compliance, minimizes risks, and promotes a healthier work environment. Remember, protecting your employees’ hearing is an investment in their long-term well-being!

If you are considering whether your employees should participate in a hearing conservation program, we encourage you to connect with Workplace INTEGRA. Our comprehensive suite of Occupational Hearing Conservation Services is designed to support America’s workforce. With our industry-leading hearing data management software and a team of knowledgeable professionals, we are passionate about preventing hearing loss before it occurs. Visit our website at Workplace INTEGRA to learn more.”

How Fit Testing Saves Hearing

Title: Protecting Our Troops: The Vital Role of Fit Testing in Preserving Hearing and Ensuring Readiness

In a world where every decibel counts, the protection of our military personnel’s hearing is paramount. The recent article titled “How Fit Testing Saves Hearing, Ensures Readiness” sheds light on the indispensable practice of fit testing in safeguarding the auditory health of our armed forces. Let’s delve into the key takeaways of this insightful piece and why it’s essential for both military members and civilians alike to understand its significance.

First and foremost, the article emphasizes the critical role of fit testing in preserving hearing. Fit testing involves assessing the effectiveness of hearing protection devices (HPDs) worn by military personnel to mitigate the risks of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and other auditory impairments. By ensuring that HPDs fit properly and provide adequate protection, fit testing significantly reduces the likelihood of hearing damage in noisy environments such as combat zones, training facilities, and aircraft carriers.

Moreover, fit testing plays a pivotal role in maintaining military readiness. Hearing is not only vital for situational awareness and communication on the battlefield but also for overall operational effectiveness. Unprotected exposure to high noise levels can compromise a soldier’s ability to detect auditory cues, communicate with fellow troops, and execute mission-critical tasks. By implementing rigorous fit testing protocols, the military can enhance the readiness and operational capabilities of its personnel, thereby safeguarding national security interests.

Furthermore, the article highlights the technological advancements and innovative approaches in fit testing methodologies. From traditional methods like real-ear attenuation testing (REAT) to cutting-edge solutions such as three-dimensional (3D) scanning and digital modeling, the evolution of fit testing techniques ensures greater precision, efficiency, and comfort for military personnel. By harnessing the power of data-driven insights and personalized solutions, the military can tailor-fit hearing protection strategies to individual needs and optimize the effectiveness of HPDs in diverse operational environments.

In essence, the article serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing commitment to prioritize the health, safety, and readiness of our troops. By embracing fit testing as a cornerstone of hearing conservation programs, the military reaffirms its dedication to protecting the well-being of those who serve our nation. However, the responsibility to raise awareness and advocate for the adoption of fit testing practices extends beyond the military sphere.

As civilians, we must recognize the broader implications of fit testing in occupational settings, recreational activities, and everyday life. Whether it’s construction workers exposed to heavy machinery, concertgoers immersed in loud music, or individuals using power tools at home, the risk of noise-induced hearing damage is ever-present. By promoting education, advocacy, and policy initiatives that prioritize fit testing and hearing protection across all sectors, we can collectively safeguard the auditory health of our communities and future generations.

In conclusion, the article underscores the indispensable role of fit testing in preserving hearing and ensuring readiness among military personnel. By embracing technological innovations, rigorous protocols, and a commitment to proactive prevention, the military sets a precedent for excellence in hearing conservation. As we reflect on the insights shared in this article, let us not only acknowledge the significance of fit testing but also strive to promote a culture of hearing protection and well-being in all aspects of our lives. To delve deeper into this crucial topic and explore firsthand accounts and expert perspectives, I encourage you to read the full blog post. Together, let’s amplify the message of protecting our troops and preserving the precious gift of hearing for generations to come.

How Face Masks Have Impacted Hearing Deficiencies

From E3 Diagnostics, by Adam Dawson

Face masks have become the new normal. While many don’t mind wearing masks, many others find it inconvenient. For people with hearing loss, however, masks can create a significant barrier to effective communication. 

Keep reading to learn how face masks make it more difficult for the deaf and hard of hearing to communicate and how you can help them more effectively communicate with them on. 

Why Face Masks and Hearing Deficiencies Don’t Mix

Many people with hearing loss use facial expressions and lip-reading to understand conversations. That’s why face masks create issues for the deaf and hard of hearing. The mask covers the speaker’s face, hiding cues a person with hearing loss may rely on when speaking with someone. A mask makes it more difficult for the listener to tell if someone is happy, angry, smiling, or frowning. 

Additionally, a cloth face mask reduces a speaker’s volume by about 5 decibels and makes it difficult to hear high-frequency sounds such as “s,” “f,” and “th.” The problems may be exacerbated if a thicker, heavier type of mask is worn. N-95 masks, for example, reduce volume by about 12 decibels

When combining lowered volume with social distancing and clear plastic shields found in many public places, it becomes even harder for individuals with hearing loss to participate in conversations.  

Finally, face masks that loop behind the ears make it difficult to wear hearing aids. The hearing devices can become dislodged, or the mask loops interfere with the microphone’s sound quality. 

Fortunately, there are solutions that people with hearing loss can use to their advantage. 

Face Masks for Hearing-Impaired Patients

Masks with clear plastic panels are available to help hard-of-hearing people read lips and see facial expressions. However, these masks also block high-frequency sounds. The plastic panels essentially reflect sounds back to the speaker instead of toward the conversation partner. Combining a clear face mask with an amplification system that utilizes a lapel microphone is a good solution to help someone with hearing loss. 

Surgical masks and loosely woven cotton masks are ideal for sound. If you wear these style masks, you will still need to take steps to help ensure a deaf or hard-of-hearing person can understand what you’re saying. These might include:  Rest of post: