National Conference to Prevent Hearing Loss in Construction:
P R O C E E D I N G S
Address: Preventing Hearing Loss in the Construction Trades: A Best Practices Conference
Director of Occupational Safety & Health, LHSFNA
MR. SCHNEIDER: I just had two overheads I wanted to show you.
We have been talking for a little while, and now beginning to create sort of a new partnership of people with the equipment manufacturers, with contractors that are concerned about this, with other construction trade unions like the Operating Engineers, for example, with Government, with the insurance industry, and also with local noise organizations, local communities.
We believe that reducing noise levels is the way to go to protect the hearing of Americans and of our members, and that this is something that everybody has a stake in. What we hope to do over the next year is to pull together this partnership, to get everybody working together on the same page, to work together to that common goal. We feel it will be in everybody's interest.
I think every one of these stakeholders has something to gain form this. The contractors, as I was saying in our workshop earlier, they are getting squeezed because they cannot work during certain hours in certain hours because of noise regulations. There is more work being done at night because they do not want to restrict the traffic flow on the highways. So that night work cannot get done if it is too noisy and it is too close to certain areas. So, for a lot of reasons, we believe that the time is right now to form such a partnership.
What would this partnership do? There are a bunch of suggestions. First is to make low-noise equipment more widely available in the United States, and we have a lot to talk about, how do we do that, how do we convince contractors to buy it, how do we convince rental companies to stock it, how do we make inexpensive retrofit kits available, why would contractors buy a retrofit kit, what are the reasons, can there be tax incentives for people to retrofit old equipment. There is a whole lot of things to discuss and how do we implement things like that.
NIOSH has an incredible expertise in the mining industry and also on noise and controls. Let's get them working on some of these projects to look at how do we develop more noise controls for other kinds of equipment where it does not exist already.
Maybe we should put together a handbook like we talked about in the workshops as they did for mining, make a handbook like that >for noise control for construction equipment.
Another thing would be to do increased research on the benefits of noise control in terms of increased productivity. People have less illnesses. There is less hearing loss. How can we demonstrate and quantify some of the benefits to convince contractors and everybody else that this is worth doing?
Another thing is creating a database of equipment noise levels, and it looks like that already exists in Europe, so maybe tapping into that, figuring out how we can use that, how we can publicize that, maybe promote some sort of program like the Blue Angel Program here.
Also, I think increased information dissemination, getting people to know the hazards of noise, doing more training. These are just a couple of suggestions on things that we could do with this partnership We have had discussions with the manufacturers. We have had discussions with contractors. We have had discussions with other Unions. We are going to be pulling this together over the next couple of months. I think this is a really exciting effort. There is certainly a lot of work to do because it is an enormous problem, and it is not going to be easy. We know that, but we want to work on it and there is a lot of interest. This is just the beginning, and that is what our plans are.