Monthly Archives: June 2015

Safety Considerations for Workers With Hearing Loss

Smiling worker with hearing protection

The top 3 concerns employers have when considering workers with hearing loss are: communication, safety, and the cost of accommodations that facilitate communication and keep workers safe.  Today we are going to talk about safety considerations.

First of all, safety considerations don’t necessarily cost an arm and a leg.  Many of them, such as developing a plan to keep ALL workers safe in the event of an emergency, really don’t cost anything. The Office of Disability Employment (ODEP) and OSHA provide guidance on emergency preparedness for persons with disabilities, including hearing loss.  The ODEP suggests 3 essential phases to emergency and safety planning:

  • Plan Development
  • Plan Implementation
  • Plan Maintenance

Plan development involves identifying the potential hazards a worker with hearing loss faces. Workers with hearing loss should be involved every step of the way and after-hours situations should be considered along with situations that might occur during normal business hours. Consult with local fire, police, and emergency departments, as well as local deaf and hard-of-hearing groups to get an accurate picture of safety considerations.  Alerting and emergency notification are key issues for persons with hearing loss. The good news is the market place offers a plethora of signaling and alerting devices at all price points.

Plan implementation involves distributing the plan to all employees and integrating the plan into standard operating procedure.  Do not forget to provide communication access (Captions, sign language interpreters, or assistive listening systems) to employees with hearing loss taking the training.  Drills, both scheduled and unscheduled, should be a prime reinforcement to any learning that takes place during the implementation process.  Some alerting device options include

  • Warning signs that flash when an audible emergency alarm sounds
  • Strategically places strobe lights or vibrating alerting devices places near workers with hearing loss
  • Vibrating pagers, watches, or other type of alarm worn by workers
  • Text messaging devices
  • Service animals trained to alert to obstacles, alarms, and other environmental hazards
  • Instant Messaging IM or email popups
  • Amplified telephone ring signaler with flashing lights

Plan maintenance involves reviewing and modifying plans after safety drills, orienting new personnel, identifying new safety concerns and addressing them, ensuring equipment is in good repair and operational at all time.

For more information about customizing worksite emergency preparedness for workers who have hearing loss, please consult OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin 07-22-2005 Innovative workplace Safety Accommodations for Hearing-Impaired Workers.

https://www.osha.gov/dts/shib/shib072205.html

For more information about customized training tools and accommodations that will make sure the material is understood by persons with hearing loss, please reach out to Valerie Stafford-Mallis at Alternative Communication Services (ACS) LLC: Valerie@acscaptions.com

 

 

 

CART Captions Could Boost On-theJob Productivity of 30% of Your Workforce

FatiguedWorkerPic

Did you know that 30% of full-time employed Americans suspect they have an unaddressed hearing problem?  According to new research sponsored by EPIC Hearing Healthcare (EPIC), almost one-third (30 percent) of employees suspect they have a hearing problem, but have not sought treatment.

Source:  Online employee survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of EPIC Hearing Healthcare between November 22 and December 13, 2013, among 1,500 nationally representative full-time employed Americans 18+, including oversamples of subaudiences of up to 101 Hispanics, 110 African-Americans, 100 Asian-Americans, 169 teachers and 100 law enforcement professionals (all employed full-time).

CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) makes the spoken word more accessible on the job to workers with hearing loss.  Face-to-face and virtual conversations could be captioned in real-time for workers in meetings, conference calls, conferences, trainings, and webinars.

Among the full-time employed Americans who suspect they have a hearing problem, but who have not addressed it, the following on-the-job impacts of their hearing loss are reported:

  • I often ask people to repeat what they have said 61%
  • I strain to understand a conversation when there is background noise or other people are talking at the same time  57%
  • I often misunderstand what is being said 42%
  • I sometimes pretend to hear when I can’t 40%
  • I have a hard time hearing over the phone 37%
  • I frequently feel stressed or tired after having to talk or listen for extended periods  22%
  • Any of these 95%
  • None of these 5%

Source: Online employee survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of EPIC Hearing Healthcare between November 22 andDecember 13, 2013, among 1,500 nationally representative full-time employed Americans 18+, including oversamples of subaudiences of up to 101 Hispanics, 110 African-Americans, 100 Asian-Americans, 169 teachers and 100 law enforcement professionals (all employed full-time).

 “All of these impacts of untreated hearing loss are likely taking a serious toll on employee productivity and the potential for more costly errors or missed opportunities when key information is missed,” said Brad Volkmer, president and CEO of EPIC Hearing Healthcare.  “Strain from untreated hearing loss can not only negatively influence an employee’s work product, it can also take a further toll on the employee’s health and well-being by causing excessive anxiety and stress, even contributing to depression.”

According to the Better Hearing Institute, studies have linked untreated hearing loss to:

  • Irritability, negativism and anger
  • Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
  • Social rejection and loneliness
  • Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
  • Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
  • Diminished psychological and overall health

SOURCE:   Hearingpedia. (n.d.). Consequences of Hearing Loss. Retrieved from Better Hearing Institute website on January 23, 2014

http://www.betterhearing.org/hearing_loss/consequences_of_hearing_loss/index.cfm.

Let Alternative Communication Services (ACS) show you how the communication access and better hearing support provided by CART captions can help reduce or eliminate hearing loss’ impact during challenging workplace listening scenarios such as group meetings, conference calls, webinars, and trainings.  For more information, please email Valerie@acscaptions.com