Category Archives: OSHA

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.”

OSHA on Hearing Conservation & COVID-19

OSHA has weighed in on COVID-19, Hearing Conservation, and enforcement. The following is an example from OSHA that addresses mobile testing:

Annual Audiograms Example-Employer contracts with a service that provides a mobile audiometric testing facility.  The service was scheduled to arrive at the employer’s facility on March 27, 2020, but due to on-site visitor restrictions and social distancing protocols, the employer cancelled the arrival of the mobile facility.  OSHA will not cite the employer for failing to conduct annual audiograms, provided the employer considered alternative options for compliance, implemented interim alternative protective measures, where possible, and shows a good faith effort to reschedule the mobile facility as soon as possible.

Here is the entire OSHA posting for more information:

Workplace Integra has implemented COVID-19 protocols with our mobile van services. If you are an existing Workplace Integra mobile client you will be contacted to schedule the testing and review the new protocols. If you are interested in using Workplace Integra for mobile testing please contact us:, or 888 974 0001.