How To Reduce Your Chances Of Hearing Loss In A Noisy Workplace

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Image via Flickr creative commons from Jaymis

Hearing loss in the workplace or occupational deafness is a serious issue and one that affects an estimated 360 million people around the world, according to the World Health Organisation. It can be either congenital or alternatively acquired. One cause of acquired hearing loss can be down to excess noise in the workplace, perhaps because of noisy machinery on a factory floor or maybe loud music in a pub or a club.

What are the impacts of hearing loss?

The condition can have a major impact on the lives of sufferers and at a very basic impair their ability to communicate properly with other people. Feelings of loneliness and isolation are very common, as is the intense feeling of frustration. Communication issues can be tackled through the use of sign language, but the social and emotion impacts of hearing loss can still be very relevant.

Awareness is key

One of the most important ways of minimising your chances of acquiring occupational hearing loss is to be aware of the condition and what causes it. If you know that you are putting your hearing at risk by working in a noisy environment without using any form of ear protection then you will be far more likely to take steps to minimise your exposure and level of risk. Empowerment through knowledge is key.

Safety equipment

Making use of supplied safety equipment and following recommended safety procedures is always going to be essential when it comes to avoiding injury and reducing the chance of acquiring occupational deafness. Personal protective equipment options are wide and varied and include everything from large over-ear ear defenders through to in-ear buds. Of course it is essential to ensure that the equipment is up to the job and that means making sure seals are undamaged and clean, and that no modifications have been made to the ear protection device. It’s advisable for businesses to provide a variety of options when it comes to hearing protection so employees can choose which one suits them best.

Employer responsibility

While it is important that you are aware of the risks of working in a noisy environment and take steps to mitigate those risks, it is important to remember that all employers have a responsibility. Health and safety in the workplace is a major issue today and businesses have a legal responsibility to protect the health of their workforce under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. If an employer is not meeting the required standard and fails to adequately protect workers then the company can be held liable.

Taking action

Workers should feel empowered to take action if they feel their employer is not offering a sufficient level of protection, or if legal health and safety requirements are not being met. Making an industrial deafness claim is a lot easier these days thanks to the number of professional claims specialists out there and there is a far higher level of understanding today about the issue and the impact that occupational deafness can have on a person’s life.

How to Ensure Members of the Public Can Clearly Recognise your Staff Uniform

HA0476 Traffic Officers New Uniform. August 2009. This set of images describes several subjects including Traffic Officers on the network, in their TO vehicles, helping to the public and working at Regional Control Centre.

Image via Flickr creative commons from the Highways Agency

Uniforms have been around for millennia. They help distinguish employees and associate themselves with a particular role or firm. If a customer is in need of assistance, a uniform makes help easy to find.

Similarly, the uniforms worn by service men and women are practical, safe and, in the case of the police force, represent a presentable public-facing image. Ensuring the public can clearly recognise your staff is easy with trusted suppliers such as Premier Workwear Uniforms.

Image is everything and the right uniform can say a lot about your business – often, it is the first impression a potential customer will get. In Australia, Flight Centre employees all wear the same uniform, regardless of their position in the company.

“No-one is any different, we’re all equal, and that goes for the office fit-outs too – we all occupy 10 square metres – even our founder and Managing Director Skroo Turner. But the uniforms are the most tangible aspect of the egalitarian culture. It helps convey professionalism,” says general manager of property and procurement, Rhonda McSweeney

As an employee, wearing a uniform is a reminder of your personal responsibility. Consumers and clients will also appreciate the way a customer-facing organisation makes efforts to be presentable at all times.

Although there is little to no research regarding what kind of effect a uniform has on profitability or turnover, they represent a culture and an image for a business. They are crucial to brand identity.

Each time a client interacts with a member of staff, it should be treated as an advertisement for a company – because of this the uniform should be individual and memorable. Colour is particularly important. According to a report by the University of Loyola in Maryland, colour can increase brand recognition by around 80 per cent.

When it comes to choosing which colour is correct for a certain business, colour psychologists can help out. According to colour specialists, Colours of the Soul: “If you think about it quickly but without analysing it, you naturally react more formally to someone in a navy suit than to someone in a yellow one. Colour can and does affect our reactions to people whether we want it to or not, the effect is subtle but very real nevertheless.

“You can send a positive or negative message by the shade of colour you wear or use in business.”

A lot of the world’s biggest brand names use uniforms to their advantage and a distinctive colour is a huge part of that. Think of how instantly you identify EasyJet through their bright orange theme. Similarly, all British Airways staff have a smart and distinctive dress code which converys their image of style and class.

There are some cons in the world of work uniforms, they rarely allow an employee to express their individuality and can be an added cost to the already pricey business of running a company. But at the same time, a managed uniform service can be offset slightly with tax deductions.

SEO For Small Businesses

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Image from Flickr creative commons via Phillie Casablanca

Having an online presence is something that is critical for businesses of all sizes these days. Even in the last year or so, the spread of smartphones and tablet computers has had a major impact not only on the number of people who have access to the internet, but also on the way that they connect and where they do it from. Buying products and researching goods and services on the go is now second nature to many people, and thanks to our busy lives it is not difficult to understand why consumers want to make the most of what would otherwise be dead time, sitting on a bus or travelling home on the train after work.

As a result, having a strong internet presence and ranking well for keywords that are central to a business’ trade has become more important than ever. The techniques employed by digital marketing agency specialists differ, but there are some essential elements to constructing a search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy for a small business that will always feature strongly.

Strategy

Rather than diving head first into trying to rank for the most competitive terms out there, step back and consider what you are actually hoping to get from an SEO campaign. Different goals will require different approaches, naturally. For example, if your main aim is to sign people up to a mailing list then you might well take a different approach than if you already have plenty of traffic coming to your website but are struggling to turn visits into conversions.

Budget

Small firms are always going to be at a disadvantage against larger competitors who have far greater budgets to work with. That’s not to say that a small businesses cannot launch an effective SEO campaign though – simply that sole traders and partnerships will have to think carefully about how money is spent and what areas are targeted to maximise the return on investment.

Website design   

Getting the design of your site right is key. There is absolutely no point putting an SEO campaign into place to attract visitors to a website if they are likely to click away from the site immediately because of the way it looks. A good website will appeal to consumers, not drive them away and so the design of a site is always going to be a crucial element of a successful SEO strategy for small businesses. Likewise, a site also needs to be easy to navigate – if it looks great but a potential customer can’t actually work out how to contact the firm or buy a product then there’ll be trouble.

What’s right for the business?

Another important thing to get right is deciding on the approach that fits with the business. Many individuals who run their own firm are not only acting as managing director, but also as accountant, PA, packing department and customer service representative. Time is something that people running small businesses are short on, so launching a social media campaign that will require constant monitoring could well be a bad idea. In fact, if customers are trying to get in touch and are asking questions on social media and you are not answering them, this could well do more harm than good.