WASHINGTON, DC — Noise induced hearing loss continues to be a public health condition of significant magnitude. According to the National Institutes of Health, 22 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. In 2015, U.S. businesses paid more than $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting workers from noise. Further, an estimated $242 million is spent annually on workers’ compensation for hearing loss disability.
Given the extent of the human toll and the monetary losses to the economy, the United States Department of Labor is conducting a Noise Safety Challenge. A contest of sorts, the Noise Safety Challenge is asking the public to contribute novel solutions to reducing harmful workplace noise exposure.
Seeking Novel Solutions
It is recommended that submissions involve one of the following three key ideas:
- Design technology that will enhance employer training so that workers consistently wear hearing protection when needed.
- Design a real-time detection system that will alert workers, wirelessly through their mobile devices, when hearing protection is not blocking enough noise to prevent hearing loss.
- Design selective hearing protectors, which allow workers to hear important alerts or human voices, while protected from harmful noise.
Submissions are due Friday, September 30, 2016 and can be submitted here. The ten best ideas will be selected by a panel of experts.
The ten winners of the contest will be invited to pitch their ideas to the panel at the Noise Safety Challenge Event on Oct. 27th. Winning ideas will get noticed by NIOSH Research to Practice and interact with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office representatives.
*title image courtesy Northstar