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The Millennial Generation: Wired for Sound and At Risk for Hearing Loss

November 08, 2017, Posted in News

Written by Mary Padron

Sound-level meter apps available for smart phones "can have a tremendous and far-reaching impact in the area of noise control," says the CDC.

Do you have a favorite sound? Is it the sweet laughter of someone you love? Or do you appreciate the sounds of a rushing river or waves lapping upon the beach of your favorite seaside town? Or, like many Millennials, maybe your favorite sounds are your favorite songs played from your iPod while wearing ear buds.

No matter what your favorite sounds are, how do you protect your hearing so that you are not a victim of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), especially if you are a Millennial whose hearing may already be compromised from over exposure to personal electronic devices?

Unfortunately, hearing loss negatively impacts a person's job, relationships, and lifestyle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that hearing loss "is the third most common chronic physical condition in the United States. It is twice as common as diabetes or cancer."

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that "approximately 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 have high frequency hearing loss due to over exposure to noise at work or during leisure activities."

Over exposure to noise can be detrimental to hearing health and can lead to:

  • tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • temporary, mild, or permanent hearing loss
  • loss of productivity
  • increased probability of work-related accidents and injury

At Risk for Hearing Loss

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, Millennials represent 36 percent of the U.S. workforce and will represent 75 percent by the year 2025. Born between 1980 and 2000, they already have experienced a steady stream of loud noise in their personal lives through ear buds and personal electronic devices. Plus, younger workers entering the workforce often underestimate the risks of noise hazards.

Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates globally that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults, which includes Millennials, are already at risk for hearing loss from unsafe use of electronic devices or from exposure to dangerous sound levels at nightclubs, concert halls, or sporting events.

In February 2017, CDC released a survey that said around 8 million people ages 20 to 29 suffer from some kind of hearing loss. This amounts to 7 percent of this age group who can’t hear high-pitched sounds. This figure goes up to 10 percent for people ages 30 to 39.

The cumulative effect of over exposure to sound in Millennials' personal and workplace lives could cause the "generation wired for sound" and the younger generations that follow to suffer from hearing loss more frequently than the generations before them. Safety managers and professionals need to address the increased risk of hearing loss for Millennials in their hearing conservation programs, especially because they represent more than one-third of today’s workforce.

How to Motivate Millennials to Protect their Hearing through Technology

Luckily, despite these statistics, WHO says NIHL "is the most common, permanent, and preventable occupational injury in the world." Because Millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, having surpassed Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, how can we motivate them to protect their hearing at work and in their personal lives?

Most safety managers are familiar with the primary methods to help prevent hearing loss, including education, engineering and administration controls, "buy quiet" practices, and the use of hearing protection devices (HPDs), such as foam ear plugs and ear muffs.

However, with Millennials, there is another tool which can be helpful—technology and the evolving smart phone apps that help measure sound. After all, Millennials have grown up on technology and respond positively to it. They are tech-savvy, well educated, and they love a good smart phone app.

How can you tell when a noise is unhealthy for your ears? There's an app for that. Sound-level meter apps available for smart phones "can have a tremendous and far-reaching impact in the area of noise control," says CDC. The mobile nature of the smart phone makes it easy for Millennials to take control of their hearing health by downloading apps that measure the decibel level of sounds in the environment around them. CDC and NIOSH say the benefits of these apps include:

  • Raise workers' awareness about their work environment
  • Help workers make informed decisions about the potential hazards to their hearing
  • Serve as a research tool to collect noise exposure data
  • Promote better hearing health and prevention efforts
  • Easy to use


Although many smart phone apps are very accurate, they should not be used for OSHA compliance purposes or professional-grade sound measurement. Instead, sound meter apps should be used as a tool to screen surrounding environments for noise pollution, including workplaces, gyms, concerts, power appliances, kitchen tools, loud moving vehicles, airports, etc. Smart phone apps are not intended to be used in diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition, nor are they intended to be used as legal evidence for workplace/merchandise safety.

However, the inexpensive cost, ease of use, and portability of smart phone apps can provide Millennials with an approximate value of noise levels to motivate them to use hearing protection devices, which include foam ear plugs, passive and electronic ear muffs, custom-molded ear plugs, banded protection, etc.

Five Noise/Sound Meter Apps for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Below are five of the more professional rated apps in the marketplace. Remember, smart phone apps are not as accurate as a professional SPL noise meter, which can cost in the thousands of dollars. However, the affordable apps below, when used properly, can provide a good approximate value of the noise levels in your environment.

Which do you think has more power to motivate a Millennial? A sign that says "Hearing Protection Must Be Worn in This Area," or when a worker activates his or her sound meter app and sees "100 dB SPL"?

In 2014, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a pilot study to determine which smart phone apps were the most reliable. The resulting paper, "Evaluation of Smartphone Sound Measurement Applications," was published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. They studied both iOS and Android apps. For more in-depth scientific information about the most reliable smart phone sound-level meter apps, visit

Six Workplace Training Strategies That Will Empower Millennials to Protect Their Hearing

How can a safety professional encourage Millennials to better protect their hearing both in their professional and personal lives? One key way is to develop digital safety training that caters to the generation that grew up with a cell phone in their purse or pocket.

1. Throw away that black training binder and go digital. Offer safety training on the go by including mobile-enabled training in your safety courses. This gives Millennials the flexibility to train any time and anywhere and to engage in training when it best fits into their workflow.

2. Include lots of safety training videos in your modules. Millennials prefer video to PowerPoint decks as they often prefer watching video to reading. The popularity of YouTube among Millennials is a testament to video-based training modules. For example, many workplaces use disposable foam ear plugs for their hearing protection. Instead of showing a diagram on how to insert the ear plug, show a video that focuses on proper insertion techniques. Many foam plug manufacturers have videos like this on their websites for easy download.

3. Position your classroom instruction as a "Coaching Class."

4. Break up content into bite-size, easy-to-read pieces with lots of headlines.

5. Use social media to enhance training. Possible social media training exercise for hearing protection:

Have your employees download one of the sound/ noise level meter apps from the Internet, many of which are free. You may want your employees to download different apps to compare differences. Like a treasure hunt, give your employees three or five key noise areas to measure the Sound Pressure Level (SPL) with their apps. On a dedicated Facebook page for the training exercise, ask them to post the sound pressure level in decibels that correlates to the different noise areas being measured.

Then review the results of the exercise in a group setting. For this discussion, make sure you have different kinds of hearing protection available with a range of NRRs. Then discuss the type of hearing protection needed or not needed for the different noise areas. This exercise makes learning more engaging and memorable and helps increase awareness of "hearing loss danger zones" at your workplace.

6. Ask Millennials for their input about the hearing protection devices for your safety program. Make it fun. Ask them to take a "selfie" wearing the hearing protection and to comment on what they like or don't like about the product in 140 characters or less—think Twitter. This exercise can provide the safety manager with valuable insight on which HPDs will be more readily adopted by their Millennial employees, which always helps increase compliance.

Sound Meter Level Apps Help Raise the Consciousness of Noise Pollution

Whether you are a Millennial, a Gen-Xer, or a Baby Boomer, all workers need to be aware of the dangers of hearing loss. One way to increase awareness is through sound meter level apps that can be affordably downloaded from iTunes or Google Play. Although these apps can’t be used for OSHA compliance, many of them serve as a viable measurement tool that can alert workers to the hearing hazards around them at work and at play.

Sound meter apps help raise the consciousness level of noise pollution; we can hope the increased awareness will lead to heightened levels of compliance for wearing the proper hearing protection at work. Who knows, maybe Millennials will begin to keep foam ear plugs in their purses or pockets alongside their smart phones.


How Brazilians Cure a Hangover and Other Jet Set Travel Cheats

November 08, 2017, Posted in News

Written by Mark Ellwood

Bicycle maker Lorenzo Martone has serious tips on how to tune out sound on an airplane and always be ready for an adventure.

Lorenzo Martone made his name as publicist for such models as Victoria’s Secret angel Alessandra Ambrosio before turning a passion for bicycles into a successful business. In 2012, he started Martone Cycling Company,  selling luxury bikes and accessories online and at such stores as Los Angeles's Fred Segal and Colette in Paris. Martone’s latest product is a limited-edition rose-gold model of his standard MCC bike.

Martone lives in New York and says he flies around 500,000 miles a year, mostly on American Airlines. It's “the only airline that makes me feel like a millionaire—and that’s the only type of millionaire I am,” he laughs. “In miles.”

Want to tune out noise on a plane? Make like a construction worker.

I’m a light sleeper, and my search for earplugs started from me sleeping with men who snore—I’ve had multiple boyfriends with a serious, severe snoring problem. And the travel experience is so noisy for me, too; airlines have become flying buses, where you come across lots of people that don’t really know how to behave when sharing a small amount of space. So I need good earplugs, and not the ones they give you on the plane. I researched the brand that construction people use, and I use those, which are custom fit to your ear: Radians. But because the airplane itself is so loud, I add a pair of Bose earphones on top of that, even if I’m not listening to music or watching movies.

Always have an emergency kit and make sure it's stocked with these four things.

never leave home without my passport. I remember I was living in Europe, in Paris, and it was one of those casual dinner situations, where friends of friends decided to go to Ibiza right away for the opening weekend of lots of clubs. I couldn’t go, and I regret it. So now, even in the U.S., where I can travel with my driver’s license, I always make sure to bring my passport in case someone has one of those ideas.

And I pack my "What if I bump into a crazy rich friend with a jet?" kit. It consists of some scandalous swimming trunks—I’m Brazilian, so I’m very comfortable in Speedos all day long, and I’m not ashamed of going to the supermarket shirtless—and my sunglasses and hangover pills, Engov. You can buy them over the counter in Brazil, in a gold package that looks like a condom package. You're supposed to take one before you start drinking and another one after, but it’s really hard to remember. I take one when I’m feeling the pain of the hangover, and it always works. I learned about it from my parents who said, "You’re going to be having a big night—here, we don’t want to hear complaints about your headache tomorrow," Every time I go to Brazil, I have more and more orders from friends. It’s like I’m trafficking Engov.

When in St. Barts, do as the locals do. 

I’ve been going to St. Barts with my best friend [and ex-fiancé] Marc Jacobs for maybe seven years now for Christmas and New Years. Don’t be scared—people look up the airport online and see the two little mountains the plane has to go through [to land], and it looks scary, but you get used to it. There is a big New York City art collector slash real estate mogul slash Russian billionaire crowd, but I like that you can make out of St. Barts whatever you want—there’s also a very local side to it, a very islandy Caribbean vibe. There is a place only locals go called Le Select, right in the center [of Gustavia]. It’s been there forever, with a big terrace and plastic chairs; they only have burgers and beer. I always like going there, as it’s the opposite of so many other places on the island that are so frou-frou.

Always opt for an AirBnB over a hotel.

AirBnB has a filter that tells if a place is only for AirBnB or if someone lives there. Most people prefer to go to AirBnBs where there’s no-one [in residence], but I think the opposite. I don’t want to be in a plain apartment decorated with Ikea furniture so it can be rented on AirBnB; I want to open a fridge and see what people eat. I was going to Tel Aviv in the summer of 2014, and all my friends canceled at the last minute, so I found an AirBnB in Yafo, a local neighborhood that wasn’t very touristy. I was on the way up the stairs to the third-floor apartment, and I smelled this delicious cake being cooked. The woman was literally waiting for me, baking a cake—and she was pregnant, very pregnant. I asked when it was due, and she told me, "Tomorrow." I said, "Oh my God, girl, get outta here—what are you doing?Æ 24 hours later, I’m receiving baby pictures, and we’ve kept in touch since then. I even got to meet the baby.

The pros of flying with a bike.

The first thing you need to do is buy a bike suitcase. All you have to do is take the front wheel off your bike, and its fits in the case—those cases are accepted by pretty much any airline, as oversize baggage like surfboards or instruments, but do call and check. You usually need to book in advance, too, as they only allow a certain number of oversize bags on a plane. When you arrive, you go to that section of the airport for extra-size luggage, and the people that are in that room are so interesting: They’re musicians, they’re surfers. In that room, everyone is very chatty. It feels like a little gang of people that share something extra, a little community.

When in a new city, consider exploring by bicycle.

What I love about Tokyo is that you can bike on the sidewalk legally. It’s an interesting experience, as you’re among the pedestrians, and the place is so packed, but they don’t care, and they don’t complain about stepping aside for the bike. People are scared of biking in New York because of the traffic, but I think it’s crazy, and so fun. I love the Lower East Side in New York, especially Forsyth Street, because it has a bike lane in the middle, and it’s very green. That area, the new Chinatown, has such a strong character, and it’s full of new small art galleries I love.

How to travel with your dog.

I started traveling with my dog, Mia, when she was a little puppy so she could get used to it. She is an emotional-support dog—my doctor wrote me a letter that I needed her as an emotional support, because I think I sounded crazy enough when I talked about how attached to her I was. So you need to call and make sure that the letter is in your booking on your airline of preference [so you can bring the dog on board]. The best airports have cute dog relief areas now, too: There was a very cute one in Dallas, and the airport that’s most pet friendly is San Francisco. They love dogs there, and there are lots of signs. I say, if you’re going to fly with a pet, fly via San Francisco.

SOURCE: Bloomberg Pursuits

Noise Induced Hearing Loss: Are you doing enough to protect your workers?

January 12, 2016, Posted in News


Safety at Work Magazine recently published an article focused on noise induced hearing loss and what employers can do to protect their workers. 

Read the full article here:
Pages 10 - 12

Also check out our full page Foam Earplug Dispenser Ad on page 32.

Radians Foam Earplug Dispensers

December 21, 2015, Posted in News

Radians Foam Earplug DispensersRadians has just launched new patent-pending Disposable Foam Earplug Dispensers that are available with two of their popular Made in the USA foam plugs, the Resistor and Detour.

These innovative dispensers are a game-changer for workplace safety because they have several patented design features which make the dispenser easy to use, easy to refill, and easy on the environment too.

The reusable dispenser, which comes with a space-saving, slim vertical dispenser box, is easy to mount and refill. Engineered with a variable mounting bracket, the dispenser is easily installed on peg board, slat wall, wire cages, warehouse racks, and drywall, which means you can easily control placement in high traffic areas.

To refill, simply remove the empty box and refill with the replacement dispenser box, which comes in quantities of either 250 or 500 foam earplugs.

The patented flexible structure of the vertical box uses less material than typical dispensers in the marketplace, making Radians’ new dispenser extremely economical and gentler on the environment than traditional plastic dispensers. The patented 360° bi-directional rotating funnel provides workers with quick and easy access to the earplugs, which always helps to increase worker compliancy.

The dispensers are available in their uncorded Made in the USA Resistor plug (PDFP70) and their Detour plug (PDFP30). Both styles of disposable foam plugs have a 32NRR.

For more information about the new dispensers or any of the hearing protection products in Radians’ comprehensive line of high performance safety gear, visit, call 1-877-723-4267 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SOURCE: Contractor Supply Magazine

Radians Launches Patent Pending Foam Plug Dispensers

December 10, 2015, Posted in News

Radians‬ is excited to launch our eco-friendly, budget-friendly, patent pending Foam Plug ‪‎Dispensers‬, which are available with two of our most popular ‪Made in the USA‬ foam plugs Resistor and Detour. The patented 360 degree bi-directional rotating funnel allows workers to conveniently to get one pair at a time, providing a more hygienic solution to ‪‎Hearing Protection‬ and less waste of earplugs. Easy to mount and refill.


Radians announces new made-in-the-USA foam ear plugs

October 02, 2012, Posted in News

Although hearing protection regulations have been in place for decades, Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is still a major occupational illness. Radians' new Made in the USA foam ear plugs (Resistor, Deflector, and Deviator) provide an effective, single-use solution to combat NIHL. Because they are manufactured in America, they are also the patriotic solution to hearing protection.

Tested in accordance with ANSI S3.19-1974 standards, Radians disposable foam ear plugs feature soft, slow-recovery foam for extreme comfort and outstanding noise reduction (NRR 32 and NRR33). They are easy to roll down and insert, and then they expand slowly for a low-pressure fit in virtually any size ear canal.

They are available corded and uncorded in a tapered bullet or bell shape and are conveniently packaged in individual polybags to keep each pair clean. Bulk and case quantities are available allowing organizations to affordably address hearing protection and hygiene issues.

 “As more Americans practice patriotic spending to help jumpstart our sluggish economy, Radians Made in the USA foam plugs not only fulfill the need for quality hearing protection; but they also satisfy the need to buy American,” said Bill England, President of Radians. “There is a lot of value in being able to choose American made products these days, and Radians is on a mission to manufacture a significant amount of high quality personal protective products with a competitive value.”

Radians is a Memphis, TN-based manufacturer of quality safety glasses, hearing protection, performance gloves, high visibility clothing and footwear products. Radians has partnered with highly respected companies including DEWALT, Black & Decker, and Remington to provide high performance personal protection products. The company has additional facilities in Reno, Nevada; Dallas, Texas; Thomasville, NC, and Belmont, Michigan.


Source: ISHN


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