OSHA Rules On Earphones

OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, reports that preventable noise-related hearing loss is a work hazard affecting millions of people each year. High noise levels cause both temporary and permanent hearing loss, depending on the amount and length of exposure. Other effects of exposure to noise include stress, reduced productivity, and interference with communication and concentration, which are contributing factors in accidents and injuries. Because of this, OSHA has developed a regulation to address occupational noise exposure, including rules on earphones.

OSHA’s Occupational Noise Exposure Regulation

OSHA’s occupational noise exposure regulation standard number 1910.95 requires employers to take specific actions to ensure worker protection when there are continuous high noise levels. The regulation states that continuous high noise levels must be measured with standard sound level meters and employers must try to implement feasible controls. If those fail to reduce exposure to required levels, personal protective equipment that reduces sound levels must be provided, as well as an effective and ongoing hearing conservation program. The regulation also requires employers to notify employees of the hearing conservation program, and provide hearing testing administered by certified hearing protection professionals at no cost to employees.

Why Earphones are Required

Earphones are required to protect workers from temporary and permanent hearing loss when exposed to continuous high noise levels. Continuous high noise levels in some work environments can’t be altered by modifying equipment or locating employees away from noise-generating sources. In those situations, OSHA requires employers to provide personal protective equipment to protect worker hearing, including earphones. OSHA requires employer to provide earphones for employees whenever the noise can’t be reduced with engineering or administrative controls such as enclosing the noise-making equipment or conditions. When noise exposure is 85 decibels or higher for eight hours — or 90 decibels in the construction industry — employers must implement an effective hearing conservation program that includes proper hearing protection such as earphones.

Earphones and Hearing Conservation Programs

Earphones are just one part of an effective hearing conservation program required by OSHA when noise levels can’t be reduced below OSHA’s required levels. OSHA requires hearing conservation programs to perform noise sampling to identify who is at risk of hearing loss, yearly hearing testing, and hearing protection follow-up for workers with hearing loss. Other OSHA requirements for an effective hearing conservation program include selecting the right earphones to reduce exposure, training workers how to properly use earphones and other hearing protection equipment, and keeping good records of noise levels and hearing conservation programs.

Avoiding Heat Illness in the Workplace

Working in high-heat conditions can be challenging. By keeping a few simple tips in mind, you can get the job done without discomfort or far worse, and accomplish more in a day than if you ignored safety protocols.

Serious Business
The dangers of heat illnesses are real. Heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke can bring about irritating red bumps on the skin, muscle spasms, nausea, dizziness, seizures, and other very dangerous symptoms. If not treated immediately, heat stroke can mean death. It’s vital to respect the power of the sun and take precautions, especially when working in extremely warm conditions.

Dress for Success
Wearing a power suit can save your life. In this case, the power is in the protection provided by smart clothing choices. When the heat soars, it’s time to trade in dark, heavy, and restraining duds for light-colored, lightweight fabrics that breathe and don’t constrict. Top it off with a wide-brimmed hat, also made of materials that breathe and that allow air to circulate, while shading the face and head.

Familiarize yourself with the signs of heat illnesses, and adopt a buddy system on the job. Co-workers who keep tabs on each other can more quickly recognize signs of impending heat illnesses, which can mean faster treatment–critical when every moment counts.

Three Keys of Cool
Remember these three simple keys to a cool workday:

KEEP HYDRATED – Your body thirsts for water long before you begin to recognize that you need it. If you wait until thirst strikes, you’ve actually waited too long. Don’t give thirst a chance: keep your body regularly replenished with water all day long, taking little sips here and there. Drink a big tumbler of pure water before eating a meal, and not only will you stay hydrated, but you’ll likely feel fuller and eat less as a result.

TAKE A BREAK – Yes, you’re at work, and the job needs to be done but you won’t accomplish anything if you overexert yourself during a hostile heat wave. Taking several small short breaks rather than fewer long breaks will help allow your body to recover from the pounding heat, and keep you on an even keel all day long. This is particularly true if you’re not used to working in warm temperatures. In time, you’ll likely become accustomed to a warmer environment, and will be able to work longer with fewer breaks, but no brownie points are awarded for succumbing to heat illness on the job, so pace yourself and rest frequently.

MADE IN THE SHADE – Simply stepping into a shaded area can itself be a lifesaver. Getting shelter from the direct hit of the sun can make the difference between surviving the heat and suffering a debilitating heat-related illness.

Keep Your Cool
WORK SMART – Dress the part. Skip the heroics and take breaks in the shade when needed. Drink water before you feel thirsty. Let your co-workers know you’ve got their backs. Play it safe for a healthy and more comfortable workday in the sun.

For further questions or concerns please contact your Loss Control Manager.

Essential Staff Care FAQ’s

Important ACA Compliance Announcement

You are receiving this notice because you are considered a large Employer under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) for 2015. We have run reports through our ACA compliance tracking software (TRAX) to determine the number of full-time equivalent (“FTE”) employees you had in 2014. A copy of your report is available upon request.

In the coming days you will receive an introduction call from Planned Administrators, Inc. (“PAI”), who will work with you to implement one of the two ACA compliant health insurance plans for your company. PAI offers both a minimum essential coverage (“MEC”) and minimum value (“MV”) plan. The following note on Essential Staff Care insurance provides important information about these plans.

How the MV and MEC Plans Work (Click here to see the Coverage Solutions for Today)

  • These plans are considered selfinsured policies however, they are “max funded”. This means that you do not have any financial liability beyond the “fully insured premium equivalent rates” that you will pay. Within a selffunded plan, there can be a surplus or deficit at year end, any deficit will be paid automatically by the stop loss carrier, so you would never be responsible for any amount beyond the premium payment. However, any surplus will be refunded, and can be used for any other “benefits related” expense, or left in the account for future expenses with PAI.
  • The MV plan for the 2015 policy year does not include hospitalization. The IRS is allowing the MV plan to not include hospitalization for one year only. Groups will be given until March 1, 2015 to implement, so this will be your effective date for both the MEC and MV plans.
  • Employer Contribution Requirements for the MV Plan
  • Employees must pay their health insurance premiums directly

Timing and Deadlines

  • In order to achieve a March 1, 2015 effective date, we must start open enrollment NO LATER THAN January 15, 2015.
  • Open enrollment runs from 1/15/2015 to 1/31/2015.
  • PAI will mail enrollment information to employees with “direct payment” instructions by February 15, 2015.

PLEASE REMEMBER to respond to the email that PAI sends after the introduction call. You’ll need to send them your company logo for the enrollment packets.

IMPORTANT NOTES

  • Your company has been deemed a Large Employer, but the number of employees PAI will reference are the active Employees in Vensure’s payroll system and not necessarily your 2014 FTE count.
  • Enrollment applications can be electronic or hard copy. PAI will provide both.
  • Employees will get a packet of information sent to their home address. This will notify the Employee to go to the appropriate benefit website to elect how they would like to pay for their coverage.
  • Coverage for the Employees begins the Monday after the first deduction in March.
  • Once the Employee makes their first payment, PAI will invoice you between the 15th and the 20th of the month, but only for the Employer portion of MV premium for those Employees who enrolled in the MV.
  • If an Employee does not pay their portion of the premium, they will have a 30 day grace period to bring their balance current before the insurance policy terminates.
  • If the Employee doesn’t pay during this time, the coverage will be canceled and you will receive a refund of premium you paid for that Employee.
  • Employees will not enroll in both the MEC and MV health plans. The MEC should be taken by all Employees who do not enroll in the MV plan. We will notify you of those Employees who you must offer MV coverage to.
  • PAI will conduct an Implementation call with you following the introduction call.
  • Each policy has its own application. Please make sure your Employees use the right application for the policy they want.

Should you have any questions regarding Essential Staff Care insurance, please do not hesitate to contact benefits@vensure.com.

Ways to Add Joy to Your Life

At the end of the day, have you ever wished you had more joy in your life? Whether you are at work, at home, out with friends, or enjoying a walk in the park, you can find ways to fill your day with happiness. If we choose to be dependent on our job, our family, and our friends to make us happy, we will be disappointed. Joyful living is a choice we have to make.

Be Grateful
When you wake up in the morning, think about the many reasons you have to be grateful. Jot a few items down in a notebook, and add to it each day. Before you go to bed, reflect on your day and the things that brought you joy. Being grateful for the good things in your life helps you be cheerful.

Show Appreciation to Others
Many people contribute to your happiness. Return their kindness with a “thank you” for how they have impacted your life. You can invite a friend for lunch and say thanks in person, or send a nice hand-written card if they live a distance away. If you send a card, tell the recipient exactly why you are thankful. A card with only a signature is not sufficient. When you show appreciation to others, it results in joy.

What Do You Love?
Music, reading, running, cooking, and hiking are just some of the things people love. We each have special activities or hobbies that we enjoy, and it is important to allot time to do the things that please you. Doing what you love to do creates a joyful attitude.

Do You Love Your Job?
Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” We all have good days and bad days at work, but keeping a positive outlook and disposition helps you, and those around you focused on solutions!

Choose Friends Wisely
Do your friends and family support you in the choices you make for your life? Choose to spend time with people who uphold and encourage you in the activities that bring you happiness.

Supportive Friends
What kind of friends have you chosen? Sometimes we have more acquaintances than true friends. Select friends you would enjoy as family members. True friends are supportive, encouraging, and bring you joy.

Giving of Yourself
There is a wonderful feeling of fulfillment when we give to others. On the job and in your personal life share the skills, talents, and knowledge you have gained. Find an organization needing volunteers and donate your time and talents. You will be rewarded through service to others!

Recognize the Good in You
Never focus on the things you find wrong at home or at work, but focus on your strengths and positives aspects of family, friends, and co-workers. Concentrating on the good in “you” provides the power to succeed in your endeavors.

Overcome Fear
Fear is an element of limitation, and we tend to create most of our own fears. Replace fear with the knowledge you have discovered. When fear is displaced with happiness, living becomes a joyful experience.

Once you have filled your life with joy, be sure to share it with others!