Daily Insight for July 16, 2012

Daily Insight: Can you hear me now? New study on plant floor hearing loss


Hear this – loud and clear: A new study by the University of Michigan School of Nursing finds that three-quarters of factory workers said their hearing was excellent or good. Then they were formally tested, and the results showed that 42% had suffered some hearing loss.

“This finding shows that even workers who are served by a workplace hearing conservation program and receive annual hearing testing may be unaware of their actual hearing ability,” said Marjorie McCullagh, assistant professor in the U-M School of nursing and principal investigator.  “Consequently, health care providers would be wise to examine methods to help workers develop more accurate perceptions of their hearing, and test more effective methods to protect it.”

In fact, the Michigan study found that even with the most stringent workplace care, including a hearing safety program, there was still consistent examples of hearing loss.

Plant Engineering will take a deeper look at this issue later in the year. For now, though, it is a good time to examine your employee hearing prevention and testing efforts. 

A jolt of good manufacturing news: Starbucks is better known for the 500-volt jolt that caffeine gives you first thing in the morning. The company has been putting the American jobs issue out front in their stores through the Create Jobs For USA Fund, and now it has two new initiatives designed to stimulate job growth in a more traditional way.

First, the company is investing $172 million in its first company-owned manufacturing facility in Augusta, Ga. the plant will manufacture the Via coffee packets and drink mixes for is blended coffees, such as Frappuccino.

Starbucks also has partnered with an Ohio ceramics company to manufacture its new line of coffee mugs. The move has revitalized the region’s traditional ceramics business, and put more people back to work at that plant. In addition, $2 from the sale of every $9.95 mug will go to the Create Jobs For USA Fund. So their efforts are coming full circle.


And can you say this about YOUR community? In the press release from Starbucks about the plant construction, there was this quote from Peter Gibbons, executive vice president of Starbucks’ global supply chain operations. “With access to a skilled labor force, advanced technology, and critical transportation and logistics infrastructure, Augusta is a great example of how building high-tech manufacturing facilities in America makes good business sense while supporting the communities where our customers and partners live and work.”

That’s all it takes to build a $172 million plant in Augusta, Ga.? That seems so simple. So why aren’t more communities doing just that?

Turns out they are, as you’ll learn in Plant Engineering’s Mid-Year Report in August.



And if you’re not able to say that: Maybe you need a program like the one Snap-on Industrial, Gateway Technical College and the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) are hosting on Aug. 2. They will have a workforce roundtable to discuss job training and the role technical colleges and industry play to achieve that goal from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Snap-on Innovation Center in Kenosha, Wis. 

The theme of the roundtable discussion: “Bridging the Gap Between Tomorrow’s Opportunities and Today’s Realities,” aims to bring employers, educational institutions and policy makers together to share perspectives and ideas on advancing workforce skills training and ensuring the needs of business and the economy-at-large are being addressed. Attendees include leadership from national technical schools, leaders from regional businesses and government policymakers.


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