Rigorous process helps protect hearing

The Nekoosa Mill has implemented a hearing conservation program to protect employees from hazardous noise exposure and prevent Standard Threshold Shift (STS) recordable cases. Implementation was carried out over a two-year period and followed a rigorous process.

We began in 2012 with a mill-wide, position specific noise monitoring. Each position in the mill went through 24 hours of noise monitoring so that we could accurately determine an eight-hour time weight average (TWA). From there, we developed an attenuation diagram to help ensure that each employee wears the correct ear plug in order to safely attenuate noise levels on their job.

In cases where we could not properly attenuate noise levels, a 3M ear plug fit tester was used to quantitatively measure true noise attenuation. This device ensures that the selected ear plug protects the employee.

Lastly, we used electronic noise cancelling ear muffs, which offer a passive noise reduction rating of 26 decibels and, thanks to the electronic noise cancelling system inside, have an active noise reduction rating of 20 decibels.

Having accurate data helps to ensure that employees are properly protected from hazardous noise in the workplace. We are proud to say that since the completion of this project, we have not experienced any recordable STS cases at Nekoosa. More importantly, we are preventing long-term hearing loss in our employees, and that’s what we truly care about.

The Nekoosa Safety Department used a dosimeter to determine noise exposure levels for each job position in the mill.