February 10, 2022

Safe-in-Sound Awards Recognize Manufacturing Facility, Company in Professional Sound Industry

On Feb. 9, NIOSH announced the winners of the 2022 Safe-in-Sound Awards, which honor successful hearing loss prevention initiatives in fields where workers are at risk for overexposure to noise. The Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award winner is the Northrop Grumman St. Augustine Site, a manufacturing center located in Florida. The recipients of this year’s Innovation in Hearing Loss Prevention Award are audio software development company Rational Acoustics LLC, Michael Lawrence, and Jamie Anderson. Lawrence is a senior instructor and project manager at Rational Acoustics, while Anderson is the company’s president, owner, and director of training.

The Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award, which is given to companies that exceed normal expectations to protect workers’ hearing, recognizes the strong safety culture at the Northrop Grumman St. Augustine Site, a facility that produces, modifies, repairs, and overhauls military aircraft. According to the awards announcement, the facility demonstrates commitment to hearing loss protection through its implementation of noise controls, noise monitoring, and “buy-quiet” strategies that prioritize the purchase of equipment and tools that generate less noise. The Northrop Grumman St. Augustine Site also provides employees with several alternatives for hearing protection devices and hearing protection fit testing, including communication-enhanced electronic hearing protection devices as needed. The company’s hearing protection program includes review and analysis of pure tone audiometry results to identify early changes in employee hearing, and it works to continuously improve training to ensure relevance.

Rational Acoustics is a small company based in Connecticut that develops, distributes, and supports audio measurement software for the professional sound industry, focusing on audio output at music events. In addition to product development, the company works to address issues related to noise exposures experienced by live sound mixers, event crew members, and concert attendees. The Safe-in-Sound Awards website explains that people in these groups face issues such as working and congregating in unregulated environments and a lack of tools to accurately measure sound pressure and obtain actionable data. Lack of knowledge about risk and resistance to implementing best practices guidelines are additional challenges. To address these issues, Rational Acoustics developed software that provides sound engineers with sound pressure data, remote monitoring, and alerts during music performances. The company’s approach also included outreach, education, and cooperation with professional organizations in guidance development. Rational Acoustics also developed and taught sound-mixing techniques intended to increase “musical impact” without increasing noise exposure. The Innovation in Hearing Loss Prevention Award recognizes the company, Lawrence, and Anderson as leaders in hearing health promotion that have raised awareness of noise management among music industry professionals, standard-setting organizations, and the public.

The Safe-in-Sound Award winners will be formally recognized on Feb. 11 at the National Hearing Conservation Association’s annual conference. More information can be found in NIOSH’s announcement and the Safe-in-Sound website’s profiles of the Northrop Grumman St. Augustine Site and Rational Acoustics.