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Millions of workers are exposed to hearing hazards every year, and even though OSHA regulations and NIOSH recommendations in the U.S. specify hearing protection, occupational hearing loss is still the number one reported worker illness in manufacturing*. Moreover, noise-induced hearing loss is permanent and irreversible, but avoidable with the help of proper hearing protection and other measures. Here we will explore some hearing protection devices (HPD) and other steps that can be taken to help protect workers’ hearing in a wide variety of industries.


When workers are exposed to loud noise, earplugs can offer low-cost, effective hearing protection. These are soft foam or elastic plugs worn inside the ear canal to help block out hazardous sounds. Earplugs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes so there are many choices for workers. With the right fit and insertion techniques, earplugs can provide adequate protection for many types of noisy situations.

Disposable foam earplugs are the most widely used type of HPD. The soft foam is rolled into a tightly compressed cylinder then inserted into the ear so that it conforms to the unique shape of ear canal. They are relatively low price per pair and can result in a high noise reduction when worn correctly.

Push-to-Fit earplugs are soft foam tips with a flexible stem where there is no need to roll down the foam tips before inserting into the ears. This works well for employees who have difficulty rolling and inserting disposable foam earplugs and can even be inserted when hands are dirty or when wearing gloves.

Reusable earplugs are washable with flexible, elastic flanges attached to a stem and can be reused multiple times and therefore replaced less, potentially resulting in lower long-term cost. The elastic material doesn’t absorb moisture and works well in wet conditions or when employees perspire heavily.

Also, metal detectable earplugs have a stainless-steel bead encased in the earplug. Popular in food manufacturing industries when contamination prevention is critical, this type of HPD is available in a variety of comfortable earplug styles to meet most wearer preferences and help address a variety of environmental noise hazards. Earmuffs

One of the easiest hearing protectors to wear, earmuffs can quickly be adjusted to provide a snug and reliable fit for a wide range of ear and head sizes. Since earmuffs can be less complicated to put on correctly, most users can intuitively learn to wear them. Additionally, earmuffs allow workers to easily put their hearing protection on and take it off throughout the day as needed.

Earmuffs can be reused time and again, and, if properly cleaned, maintained, and stored, can typically be worn up to two or three years. Also, given the size, they are harder to lose than other hearing protectors. This means you may not need to replace earmuffs as often as other types of hearing protectors. Additionally, the easier and more comfortable personal protection equipment is, the more likely employees may be to wear it. Moreover, because earmuffs are can be easier to see from a distance, it may also be easy to monitor that workers are wearing hearing protection.

Advanced Hearing Protection

Advanced Hearing Protection Solutions can help keep the workers’ hearing protected while enabling them to clearly communicate and hear their surroundings. There are two categories of Advanced HPDs: Protective Hearing Solutions and Protective Communication Solutions.

Protective Hearing Solutions allow you to hear normally when it’s quiet and provide protection when it’s loud. This type of HPD can be effective when:

  • There is intermittent, varying, and/or unpredictable noise
  • Workers are tempted to remove their hearing protection to communicate
  • Enhanced situational awareness is desired, e.g. moving vehicles are present, alarms need to be heard, for maintenance personnel
  • Workers move between loud and quiet areas

    Sometimes, workers may also need hearing protection that can allow them to clearly communicate in noise. These Protective Communication Solutions can help when:

  • People are wearing hearing protection and carrying two-way radios
  • People are trying to talk on their mobile phone in noise
  • People need to shout into each other’s ears to communicate

    Hearing Conservation Program

    Employers in the U.S. are required to provide a “continuing, effective hearing conservation program” for employees who are exposed to hazardous noise, according to U.S. OSHA. You can advance your hearing conservation program with a customized and comprehensive approach to providing hearing protection. Implementing a solution that really makes a difference begins with an understanding of the hazards, the regulations, and the factors that impact hearing protection. Your program should also take into account the seven elements of hearing conservation.


    Accurate measurement of employee exposure to hazardous noise is essential. Conducting noise surveys using appropriate detection instruments can help you identify who is at risk, determine who needs to be included in your program, and select the proper controls and protective equipment to help reduce the risks.


    Certain operations and machinery create high noise levels. But do they have to? Equipment and processes can be designed or altered to be quieter, reducing the number of employees in your conservation program.


    Hearing protectors play an important role in hearing conservation. They must be comfortable, fit properly, and provide adequate protection for the environment. Compatibility with other PPE and the workers’ ability to communicate must also be considered. Including individual fit testing of earplugs and earmuffs in your program can help you educate your employees on the importance of hearing protection and validate the Personal Attenuation Rating (PAR) achieved by each worker.


    Are your employees showing symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss? It’s important to routinely use standardized measurement procedures to check their hearing to detect and record changes, so you can take steps to prevent permanent hearing loss.


    Because noise-induced hearing loss usually happens gradually and the symptoms are not always apparent, it is vital to educate employees on the effects of exposure to loud noise and train them to properly use hearing protection. You may be able to improve the success of your hearing loss prevention efforts by strengthening worker training and motivation programs.


    Make sure your hearing conservation program is working with regular program evaluations that include employee feedback, responsibility reviews, and cost analysis. This will help identify trends, highlight potential problem areas, and drive improvement. Fit Testing

    Fit testing can deliver an objective, quantitative measurement of each employee's hearing protection, so you can help better protect your workforce while also helping employees understand the importance of proper fit. Fit testing can further help employers because it:

  • Is fast, quantitative, and objective
  • Helps measure the wearer’s personal attenuation rating (PAR) with particular hearing protectors
  • Allows for the opportunity for training to help promote effective fit and
  • Provides documentation for compliance reporting

    A proper hearing conservation program is meant to help measure, control, protect, check, train, record, and evaluate. Hearing Conservation Manager Digital Programs

    It might be in a safety manager’s best interest to invest in a digital system, where hearing conservation managers can track for each worker the results of fit testing, the noise exposure levels experienced given a specific work environment and keep track of overall hearing health data over time. This data can help with selecting the appropriate hearing protection based on exposure in a particular work environment and keeping track of what hearing PPE inventory is needed for the work force.

    Using a digital system to gather and store information on how PPE is used in the workplace can help promote regular maintenance for certain PPE assets, as well as help improve the hearing program, overall operations, and safety culture. This may lead to enhanced productivity, compliance, and confidence by workers who feel they are properly feel protected.

    People like options. When their personal preferences are considered, employees may be more satisfied and more invested in their work. Employees may wear hearing protection more of the time when they are allowed to choose HPDs that are compatible with their work. Selecting the most comfortable HPD from several options may also increase the likelihood that employees will wear them correctly. Through a well-defined hearing conservation program, safety managers, employers, and hearing conservation managers can help ensure workers are wearing the hearing protection that meets their needs.



  • Visual dashboard of noise patterns and exposure levels helps reduce health risks and improve safety programs.

    Honeywell (NYSE: HON) today announced a new smart hearing solution that combines cloud-based software and connected, protective headsets to monitor sound in real time and analyze patterns to help companies better protect workers from noise-induced hearing loss.

    The VeriShield Smart Hearing Solution comprises a protective headset that reduces background noises to safe levels within the headset, allowing workers to communicate more clearly and easily. The headsets continuously collect and transmit noise-related data to Honeywell Safety Suite, a cloud-based service that automates and streamlines the collection and reporting of critical safety intelligence. Supervisors and workers can monitor and view noise exposure data, including noise peaks, patterns and unusual occurrences, on their smartphone or mobile computer using the Honeywell VeriShield mobile app.

    Exposure to unsafe noise levels on jobsites adversely affects millions of workers worldwide and accounts for 16% to 24% of all hearing-loss cases reported worldwide, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

    “Noise-induced hearing loss is a subtle, often progressive occupational risk that might take a long time to be noticed and by then, it is too late,” said Graham Robinson, president of Honeywell’s Industrial Safety business. “With our VeriShield Smart Hearing Solution, we provide immediate feedback to inform workers and empower companies to proactively prevent exposure to unsafe noise levels, at every moment.”

    Honeywell’s software allows a safety manager or plant operator to remotely monitor noise levels and worker exposure across multiple teams. The software also provides new insights into noise exposure, enabling managers to view and log noise levels and patterns on a visual dashboard. It also can automatically generate records that help companies meet compliance regulations and reduce timely administrative procedures.

    The smart headsets provide workers with a hear-through function allowing them to hear critical conversations and alarms while being protected from unwanted noise. Additional protections include visual and audible alerts that notify workers when they are nearing and surpassing their daily dose limits. The headsets also include fit testing that will notify the user or safety manager if the device is not properly fitted or worn correctly.

    The wealth of data generated can help safety managers improve their companies’ hearing conservation programs by developing a personalized approach to worker safety, ensuring better-fitting hearing protection.

    “The VeriShield Smart Hearing Solution can motivate workers to take part in preserving their hearing because they can ‘see’ the hidden hazard,” said Robinson. “In addition, safety managers will be armed with information that gives them a clear understanding of the challenges they face before designing a hearing conservation program and issuing hearing protection.”

    Honeywell is an industry-leading provider of intelligent safety solutions and personal protective equipment that help organizations keep workers safe and healthy. The company serves a multitude of industries with the broadest range of hearing protection solutions, from innovative earplugs to intelligent earmuffs, personalized fit-testing centers and educational resources.

    Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions (SPS) provides products, software and connected solutions that improve productivity, workplace safety and asset performance for our customers across the globe. We deliver on this promise through industry-leading mobile devices, software, cloud technology and automation solutions, the broadest range of personal protective equipment and gas detection technology, and custom-engineered sensors, switches and controls.

    Honeywell (www.honeywell.com) is a Fortune 100 technology company that delivers industry specific solutions that include aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings and industry; and performance materials globally. Our technologies help everything from aircraft, buildings, manufacturing plants, supply chains, and workers become more connected to make our world smarter, safer, and more sustainable.



    How to evaluate and improve program effectiveness.

    As one of the main pillars of OSHA’s Hazard Communication (HazCom) Standard, employee training is a critical part of not just workplace safety, but your company’s regulatory compliance. However, HazCom training is also one of the most commonly overlooked elements of safety programs, with many employers struggling to make it effective, engaging, and relevant.

    For HazCom training to be effective, those undergoing training must be able to comprehend the hazards and understand how to protect themselves. While OSHA does not expect workers to be able to recall and recite all data provided about each hazardous chemical in the workplace, the most important aspects of HazCom training are that employees are aware that they are exposed to hazardous chemicals, know how to read and use labels and material safety data sheets, and, as a consequence of learning this information, are following the appropriate protective measures established by the employer.

    Outside of these parameters, OSHA gives a significant amount of bandwidth to employers to determine how they deliver training and ensure that it’s effective. That’s why ongoing evaluation is such a critical component of an effective HazCom training program. OSHA perceives training as a “performance” standard, so its value is judged by whether its objectives are achieved—basically, it makes sure employees actually know what they need to know. Without regular program assessment, it’s impossible to know the success of your training or if it needs updating.

    Following training, we offer practical tips for improving the efficacy of your HazCom training program to ensure it remains engaging and useful for all employees.

    Identify Information Gaps

    Surveys and quizzes are an indispensable tool. Aside from scoring workers on what they’ve retained from courses taken, they’re useful for evaluating your company’s overall HazCom training program and help with identifying areas that need to be refreshed.

    A good approach is to provide the same quiz to workers before and after training, and then comparing the final scores. If most employees incorrectly answer a question on the quiz both before and after their HazCom training, it may indicate that course materials need to be revised to better convey the information related to that question more clearly.

    This practice is also helps to recognize any gaps you may have in your overall HazCom program. For instance, if you ask employees where the SDS binder is located and they all provide difference responses, it might not be an issue with training, but instead that the SDS binder is not located where it’s supposed to be. Without this additional evaluation, you might otherwise be unaware of the issue and unable to amend it before an incident occurs or an OSHA inspector visits.

    Take Training Out of the Classroom

    In the era of varied worker knowledge, retention rates, and talent gaps, the need for more dynamic HazCom training has never been greater. Traditional course lesson methods involving text-heavy presentations and stand-up lecturing are no longer effective for reaching today’s more diverse and technologically-advanced workforce. For HazCom training to be most effective, it must be interactive, participative, and directly related to a worker’s job function.

    Employees respond better to HazCom training material when they understand the reasoning behind it. While visual aids help clarify, consider taking it a step further by moving certain course components to the facility floor. This method not only demonstrates the real-life implications of what is being taught but also engages workers more than a classroom setting. It’s also a great opportunity to test your people on the course elements on-the-fly in the actual settings where they would need to know the information quickly. This gives workers the chance to showcase how the lesson applies to their actual work tasks and reinforces why it’s so important to retain the information.

    Remove Course Format Barriers

    Today’s workforce is more diverse than ever. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 28.2 million foreign-born persons in the U.S. labor force in 2018, comprising 17.4 percent of total workers. At the same time, age diversity is increasing at both ends of the spectrum; while it’s estimated that nearly half of all U.S. workers will be millennials by 2020, other data suggests that workers aged 45 to 59-years-old are projected to increase from 25.6 percent to 31.8 percent by 2030.

    Language is another consideration. OSHA requires workers be trained in a language and manner that they understand. This means employers must account for non-English-speaking employees and any limitations in literacy level, vocabulary, or communications within your workforce. The more workers you have, the less likely it is that a “one size fits all” approach to training will work.

    Another good example of that concerns the method of providing training. Look for ways to deliver the training in a way that fits the learning styles of tech-savvy millennials and more traditionally-defined Gen Xers and baby boomers. This is an area where training software helps bridge worker diversity and age gaps. A good on-demand training solution offers an extensive library of flexible online courses with content that is interactive and engaging. Shorter, more digestible training courses are particularly appealing to millennial workers, while multi-language options help ensure all employees understand the information being conveyed. Plus, freed from a centralized classroom environment, workers are able to access courses from remote locations and learn at their own pace, which helps those who are technically inept complete lessons within a timeframe they’re comfortable with.

    Ditch the Annual Training Mindset

    A common misconception about HazCom training is that federal OSHA requires employers to conduct annual refresher training. The reality is that the agency expects employees to be trained before they begin working with hazardous chemicals, whenever a new hazard is introduced into the workplace, and if there’s evidence that previous training wasn’t effective.

    Some state OSHA plans do require annual refresher training, so you should be aware of your state requirements. Even so, remember to avoid seeing HazCom training as just an annual task, since that can be harmful to your HazCom program by causing your program to “fossilize” even as important elements of HazCom management might be changing. For instance, a rigid annual training mindset can increase the likelihood of not re-training your workers after introducing a new hazard class of chemicals into the workplace. This jeopardizes employee safety as well as your HazCom compliance.

    Additionally, dusting-off the same training materials and delivering them the same way year after year is the easiest way to generate disdain among trainees. Your workers will come to loathe HazCom training, which isn’t exactly a recipe for success.

    This is another area where a good training solution helps streamline organization-wide course management, so you know exactly who needs what training when. The best systems not only give you access to engaging HazCom training content but also give you the tools to schedule trainings, document and verify training completion, and have built-in email notification features that remind employees and managers when training deadlines and certification dates are upcoming or past due. Central systems for accessing and storing training tracking metrics keep your information up-to-date and make it accessible from multiple locations. These tracking tools are particularly useful for safety managers who oversee a large workforce or are coordinating training over multiple locations to ensure all local training requirements are being met.

    Ensure All Workers Are Getting Trained

    OSHA has stated that it expects the staffing agency and the host employer to share the responsibility for worker safety. This means that if your facility uses contract or temporary workers, you are responsible as the host employer for training them on your workplace hazards and HazCom management practices.

    It is also important to keep open lines of communication with the staffing agency so you both understand the other’s roles and responsibilities when it comes to training. While the agency should be training its people on general HazCom requirements and the hazards of chemicals they regularly work with from one job site to another, you are responsible for providing site-specific hazard communication to employees. Among other things, it’s critical that the training includes how to access SDSs because this can become important very quickly during an emergency.

    Keep an Eye on the Bigger Picture

    While evaluating, deploying, and tracking training may seem like an overwhelming task, it’s a critical part of your company’s success. Effective HazCom training does more than just empower workers to be safe and reduce the risk of workplace safety failures or governmental fines and citations; the right tools and approach can transform a business, leading to greater productivity and contributions to the bottom line. Regular evaluation and review of your training program goes a long way toward eliminating the negative feelings employees often associate with the training process and ensures it continues to engage them with the information they need to do their jobs safely and in compliance.


    The GCCs’ construction industry continues to grow. According to a survey in April 2019 by law firm Pinsent Mason, construction companies in the area expect to receive more orders this year than last, with Saudi Arabia identified as being the leading market to deliver growth.

    With the increase in large construction projects – the majority of the companies surveyed are involved in projects with a value between US$27.22mn and US$136.12mn – comes an increased focus on health and safety management programmes. Adoption of updated international Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) standards means many multinational corporations and government bodies are now leading the way in best practice by implementing robust risk-based programmes which seek to protect both the employee and the employer from harm.

    The PPE market

    One very visible development in the attitudes towards more robust occupational health and safety management during the last decade alone is with regards to personal protective equipment (PPE). A report from Grand View Research, Inc Conventions revealed that the Asia Pacific and Middle East personal protective clothing (PPE) market is expected to reach USD 17.55 billion by 2022, driven by the growing awareness of the need for PPE; more stringent regulations placed on employers particularly in high risk industries such as the construction market and Sheikh Mohammed’s Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 launched to increase the total output and value-addition of the manufacturing sector.

    Muralikannan Navaneethakrishnan, a senior assessor for health and safety specialist Lloyd’s Register (LR) in the United Arab Emirates comments: “When I first started working in the UAE around 12 years ago, awareness of adequate personal protective equipment was low, but over the last decade, we’ve seen huge improvements.

    “Ten years ago, you would regularly see workers at height without safety harnesses or appropriate scaffolding, but there were also many other problems which weren’t quite so obvious. These included employees using standard dust masks when working in a chemical industrial plant rather than the appropriate chemical mask, or wearing the wrong ear protectors when working in areas of extreme noise. I used to often see workers in their usual office shoes on a high-risk construction site, rather than wearing specialist safety shoes. This has all changed significantly over the last decade, driven by both the local governments and large multinational companies which are making real progress in raising awareness of the risks, particularly in the construction industry and oil and gas sector.”

    While local governments are helping to drive change, regulations in the UAE differ from Emirate to Emirate and can therefore be confusing, particularly for companies building across several locations. For example, the Ministry of Labour, Dubai Municipality, Abu Dhabi Municipality, Zones Corp and the Abu Dhabi Occupational Safety and Health Centre each produce their own health and safety legislation and guidance, as well as documentation.

    “Recent developments in occupational health and safety legislation and regulations have helped drive positive changes in behaviour, although the changes differ across areas,” continued Muralikannan. “However, many government organisations and multinational companies operating out of the UAE are driving their own progress through certification to the latest international OHS standard, ISO 45001. Being certified to this standard means those organisations have successfully turned any uncontrolled hazards into controlled risks, safeguarding the wellbeing of both employees and business at the same time. In fact, the Middle East region is second only to the UK in the number of LR customers which have either adopted ISO 45001 already or have applied to migrate across from the previous standard, OHSAS 18001.”

    Working in extreme heat brings extreme challenges in the management of PPE and health and safety programmes, particularly in high-risk industries such as construction, in which large infrastructure projects continue to be implemented across the UAE. More complex projects involve bigger risks and an understanding of adequate OHS requirements is critical in accident prevention.

    Muralikannan says: “The majority of the UAE workforce is made up of expats – many of whom have emigrated from Asia or the Asian subcontinent. Some have little to no prior knowledge of working on large scale construction projects before they arrive and if adequate training is not given then they may not understand the importance of wearing appropriate PPE. I’ve seen many labourers use the heat as a reason to not wear the right protective clothing. While local laws dictate that no-one can work during the hottest midday hours during the summer, the reality is that many are under pressure to keep working, both to ensure projects are delivered on time, and for those workers to continue to earn money to send back home to their families. During Ramadan, the months of fasting are particularly challenging, especially when temperatures soar to above 50°C and the right approach to PPE is critical to protect employees’ safety and prevent accidents.”

    Accidents can be anything from loss of life to falls from height to slips and trips. The International Labour Organization (ILO) calculates that over 2.78 million people die each year because of work related illnesses, which equates to over 7,500 people each day. A further 374 million non-fatal accidents and work related illnesses are reported annually, leading to human misery and a significant cost to the economy.

    An article in the UK’s The Guardian in 2017 claimed that according to the campaign group Human Rights Watch “many thousands of migrant workers on construction sites in Qatar, including those building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup, are being subjected to potentially life-threatening heat and humidity,” with “millions of workers in jeopardy including those in the GCC countries – Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – because statutory work breaks imposed during summer midday hours do not protect them sufficiently.”

    Prior to this, Raed Al Marzouqi, head of Occupational Health and Safety at Dubai Municipality, told delegates at a Conference in Abu Dhabi, that 99 per cent of work-related accidents in the UAE are the fault of the employer. He also said companies operating in high risk environments that fail to provide basic requirements to protect their employees will be penalised: “If you bypass the system and rules, authorities will take disciplinary action; if you do not provide the right training, right tools and right protection for the workers you will be held responsible,” he said. “In a country like the UAE, we have a diversity of workers and when we take them in, we have an obligation towards them, like they do towards us.” The BOHS Worker Health Protection Conference was told of instances in which workers had suffocated due to a lack of protection from harmful materials, while others died in falls from buildings because they were not wearing harnesses. Basic training in the construction industry is also often not being delivered properly, it was claimed.

    “A robust OHS management programme is of huge, if not critical importance to employers who need to demonstrate that they are taking due care and attention in safeguarding their workforces in hazardous situations on-site. In this area, the heat is one of the major hazards we must contend with – and a lack of training is prevalent,” continues Muralikannan.

    “many labourers use the heat as a reason to not wear the right protective clothing”

    “It can be something as simple as not enough comfortable, or properly fitting PPE available. As we have a large expat workforce here, there is demand for greater size variations which isn’t always available. While this may not seem a significant problem, it makes a big difference because people won’t wear clothes that don’t fit properly. The updated regulation is making a difference, not least because there are now huge fines implemented for contravening the rules. These challenges are also driving innovation in the PPE market and this technology will be instrumental in helping manage risk. For example, in 2016, Emirates NBD gave workers air-conditioned vests during Ramadan, which when submerged in water for ten minutes, reduced the temperature of the wearer by 5-7°C through a cooling mechanism in the design. It’s a great initiative as it only requires access to water, not on-site refrigeration.”

    Why choose ISO 45001?

    ISO 45001:2018 was developed as a framework to help organisations improve employee safety, reduce workplace risks and create healthier and safer working conditions. Rather than being a standalone activity, ISO 45001 weaves OHS into the fabric of an organisation – starting by examining the context of the organisation (clause 4.1). Put simply, this is about how the organisation operates and the internal and external factors that shape it. Workers (and their representatives, where they exist) are front and centre within the standard: from understanding the needs and expectations of workers and other stakeholders (clause 4.2), to explicit requirements for worker participation and consultation (clause 5.4). This is important because it gives the workforce an opportunity to raise concerns – and there are requirements for leaders to ensure that any barriers to participation, such as language or literacy or fear of reprisals are minimised.

    “taking a risk-based approach is a key element of ISO 45001”

    Taking a risk-based approach is a key element of ISO 45001. The clause on hazard identification and assessment of risks and opportunities (clause 6.1.2) builds on many organisations’ practices of hazard identification to consider proactive opportunities to improve health and safety performance. The clause on eliminating hazards and reducing OHS risks (8.1.2) explicitly mentions the use of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). The use of PPE should be as a last resort in the hierarchy of controls when the hazard cannot be eliminated, substituted with a less hazardous process or reorganised. Contractors and outsourced functions and processes are also covered within ISO 45001 – improving the safety and health of the wider supply chain and increasing the accountability of organisations that outsource potentially more hazardous operations.

    Muralikannan continues: “The larger organisations have been keen to adopt ISO 45001 and in some cases, they have put in place large scale changes to systems and cultures to ensure they have the most effective risk-based processes in place. What’s really important is that senior management leads from the top – without the involvement of the leadership team it can be difficult to get everyone on board, especially if you’re making changes to company culture. It will now be interesting to see if the small to medium sized businesses also look to be certified for this standard.”

    ISO 45001 was published in March 2018 to help organisations provide a safe and healthy workplace for all. It aligns the range of national OHS management system standards (including OHSAS 18001 which was developed in 1999) into one, with the intention of ruling-out confusion and market fragmentation.

    Since the launch of OHSAS 18001, it has been used by organisations in nearly 130 countries to improve OHS performance. While it aligned some national and regional standards, not all were supported and there was still some confusion in the market. ISO 45001 has the same aims as OHSAS 18001, but it uses Annex SL – the same high-level structure used for all new and revised ISO standards.

    Annex SL includes common themes which make it easier for organisations to integrate their management systems, reducing duplication and potentially cost. These cover organisational context, leadership, risk-based thinking and an enhanced process approach.

    “ISO 45001 is applicable to any organisation, no matter the size, industry sector or location. If an organisation doesn’t have a formal OHS management system in place, then it’s an opportunity to demonstrate commitment to preventing work-related injury and ill health and to promote a safe and healthy workforce. Those organisations already certified to OHSAS 18001 have three years from March 2018 to migrate to ISO 45001,” explains Muralikannan.

    LR has assessed many organisations and businesses in the GCC with regards to OHSAS 18001 and is now helping several in their ISO 45001 migration, including Abu Dhabi Police, Abu Dhabi Ports, Abu Dhabi Airports, Arabtec, General Civil Aviation Authority, EMAAR, ENOC, ADNOC, Petrofac, Aghtia Group, SERCO, WS Atkins and Partners ME, Dubai Drydocks, Kone ME, Aggreko, Thales International ME, Gulf Catering Co, MARS, and BASF Construction chemicals.


    “There are dozens of OHS training courses in the area, so companies don’t really have an excuse for not training their staff,” continues Muralikannan. “Whether it’s preparing for migration from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001, an internal ISO 45001 auditor course or a more basic introduction to ISO 45001, there are training courses available to help internal health and safety staff or auditors understand the requirements and see examples of best practice frameworks. Many of the courses will also outline any legal obligations organisations have in how to conduct a risk assessment and implement controls.

    “Our most popular training courses are the OHS Managements Systems Auditor and ISO 45001: 2018 Internal Auditor courses. These both upskill safety managers and internal auditors who have a challenging day-to-day role. It’s important they are kept up to speed with the latest regulations, legislation and best practice – this can add enormous value in how they do their daily job and ensure they become a key asset in the formation and maintenance of a positive OHS workplace culture,” concludes Muralikannan.


    Choosing effective and energy-efficient LED lighting for construction sites can help ensure workers stay safe and well, day and night, and can save money at the same time, says OnSite Support Director Damian Lynes.

    Providing adequate lighting is a key consideration for the construction industry, particularly at this time of year. Aside from increasing the risk of accidents, poor lighting can cause eye strain, migraines and headaches, all of which can affect productivity and the bottom line.

    Choosing the correct lighting for site goes beyond the fairly straightforward choice of light towers for outside areas, lights on tripods, small, portable task lights and so on, and into the more complex choice of the light source.

    This is because different light sources (ie halogen bulbs, fluorescent tubes or LEDs) have varying characteristics, which include the colour and shape of the light cast, energy efficiency, lifespan and cost.

    Bearing all these factors in mind, there is a strong argument for switching to LEDs.

    Light colour

    As well as the brightness of the light, it is also important to consider the colour (ie the temperature) of the light being produced.
    Generally, the more yellow the light, the more comfortable it is to work in over long periods. The closer to the red end of the spectrum, the more light is absorbed by the eye, so therefore the dimmer it appears.

    The higher the temperature, the whiter and brighter the light produced. At around 8,000K light becomes painfully blue and at 12,000K it begins to become purple. Output temperatures of commercially available lighting are:

  • 2,700K: Incandescent bulb;
  • 3,000K: Halogen floodlight;
  • 5,000K: Daylight;
  • 5,500K: LED cool white (high contrast);
  • 6,500K: LED bright/pure white (very high contrast).

    For detail work, 5,500K-6,500K is usually most helpful, since it provides the highest contrast – hence making LEDs perfect for these tasks.

    How the light is cast

    A halogen bulb emits light in all directions, with some of that light reflected out of the back of the housing, while the light from an LED unit is more focused, typically within 120°, and therefore can appear much brighter (another reason why LEDs are ideal for detail work).

    However, this means that, while replacing a halogen spotlight with an LED is perfectly acceptable (and requires lower wattage, because an LED is more efficient), if a fluorescent lamp is being replaced, more care is needed, as spotlights and floodlights offer a very different light spreads.

    In these cases, LED lights must be positioned so that a similar spread of light is created or, when directly substituting a fluorescent tube light with an LED of similar design, it must cast light in the same way.


    Despite producing high temperature light (typically between 5,500K and 6,500K, compared with 2,700K for incandescent bulbs), LEDs do not get hot, as almost all the energy is converted to light. This makes them much safer – in fact, some construction sites have banned high wattage halogen lights due the risk of fire and burns to workers.

    Energy efficiency

    LEDs are 95% efficient, compared with 5% for tungsten halogen bulbs and 85% for fluorescent tubes, which means they consume far less energy. And, while lighting plays a small role in an organisation’s overall emissions (between 5% and 10%), switching to LED lighting is easy and a ‘quick win’ for carbon savings.

    Whole life costs

    While the purchase price of an LED light may be higher than one using a conventional bulb, the whole-life costs are far lower. This is because conventional tungsten halogen lamps last between 2,000 and 4,000 hours; whereas LEDs can last up to 11,000 hours (depending on usage) and are more robust. As there are no bulbs to break, LEDs require less maintenance and there is less chance of damage.

    The case for LEDs

    LED lighting offers a number of advantages over conventional systems but this choice is made more difficult by the complex factors at play and the wide range of lighting sources and products available.

    For the construction industry, considering the correct level of light, its colour and how it is cast can reduce accidents on site, make workers more efficient and minimise costs.

    And, while there are no statutory requirements for employers to provide adequate lighting in the workplace, construction health and safety managers should look to the HSE’s Lighting at work (HG38), which is probably the most helpful as, along with general guidance, it gives minimum lighting levels for different construction activities.

    It is also advisable to speak to lighting manufacturers and suppliers, who will be able to help construction companies plan and specify lighting, to ensure teams remain safe and well, wherever and whenever they are working.



  • Don’t neglect your feet when choosing safety footwear.

    Safety boots have come a long way in the last few years, and the availability of choices in safety footwear is staggering. Safety boots can vary widely in quality and features. When considering safety footwear, certainly you want to consider the level of protection your boots are going to provide given your work environment, but you also want to take into consideration the features they offer with regard to comfort and overall foot health.

    Let’s face it, when you’re on the job, and potentially on your feet for hours at a time, you don’t want to be distracted by your feet. So, what do you want to consider when choosing safety footwear?


    Certainly, one of the first things you want to look for is a boot that is certified to ASTM F2413 for toe protection. Back in the day, there was ANSI Z41, but ASTM F2413 superseded that standard back in 2005. Most modern-day shoes are now certified to the ASTM standard. The most current edition is the ASTM F2413-2018 edition (meaning the edition was revised in 2018), replacing ASTM F2413-2011 edition. Since it takes a bit of time for manufacturers to go through a third-party certification process, especially when a new version of a standard comes out, boots certified to the new 2018 edition will just be hitting the market.

    Boots can be certified just for the basic impact (I) and compression (C) for the toe caps, or manufacturers can choose to get additional optional certifications as well. Optional add on certifications are metatarsal protection (Mt), Conductive protection (Cd), Electrical hazard protection (EH), Static Dissipative protection (SD) and Puncture resistance (PR). All certified boots will have a combination of these abbreviations on the inside label of the boot, depending on what it is certified for.

    Take into consideration what you need for working at your particular job, such as the need for electrical hazard protection or puncture resistance in the sole. Bear in mind that electrical hazard protection and static dissipative features are mutually exclusive. A boot can only be one or the other, but not both. Think of it this way, one helps to prevent electricity from coming into the body (EH), the other helps to prevent you from emitting static electricity (SD). Boots that are certified conductive (Cd) are similar to static dissipative boots; conductive boots just “conduct” the static electricity faster and more completely than static dissipative boots. Also be aware that in the case of EH rated boots, they are not meant to be the primary source of protection, but only a secondary source of protection.

    Alignment and Support

    Besides looking for footwear that is certified to the safety standard, other factors should come into play when deciding on your footwear because your feet are the foundation on which your body rests. The muscle chains that hold our body upright and permit us to stand, run, carry heavy objects and much more, all have their origins in the feet. The foot contains 26 different bones. The shape of these, and the muscle and ligaments to which they are attached, are precisely aligned so that you can withstand the stresses of everyday life without any issues.

    Did you know that during the course of an average lifetime, your feet will transport you a distance equivalent to going around the world up to four times? That’s a lot of work for your feet, especially while having to carry the weight of your body. And if you pick incorrect footwear, you can place additional burdens on to your feet.

    The foot and the boot must form a functional unit. The main tasks of the boot are to not only provide protection from work hazards, but also provide any support necessary to meet the specific demands placed on it without affecting the foot’s bio-mechanical properties. For example, having adequate cushioning and shock absorption, keeping the foot aligned in the correct position for muscle balance, and to prevent malpositions of the feet.

    Currently 65 percent of people between the age of 19 to 34 are already suffering from irreparable malposition to the feet and suffering from the resultant changes to their musculoskeletal system. Symptoms resulting from foot problems can manifest itself into unexplained aches and pains to the back, head, knees, or feet. Incorrect foot positions can ultimately lead to incorrect posture. Boots are actually made on foot “lasts.” These are foot forms, and ultimately determine the final fit of a boot or shoe, because the shoe is built and molded based around the foot last. Manufacturers will generally have their own lasts, and these can vary widely between manufacturers. The best lasts are those that are built anatomically correct based on orthopedic parameters. These types of lasts will result in a boot that will follow the form of your foot, and ultimately provide footwear that will be more comfortable.

    Anatomically correct lasts will have a more pronounced arch and provide more arch support, especially for those who have flatter feet. Good arch support will support the natural curvature of the foot and helps to keep the foot in the best position for optimal foot health. Look for boots that mention arch support, especially if you will be standing on the job for long periods of time.


    Since we are talking about safety boots, toe protection certainly is the biggest player here. Your toe cap needs to protect you from impact and compression, and if certified, the toe already meets the ASTM testing standard. The question then becomes, whether the toe caps should be steel or composite. Composite toe caps are becoming more and more popular as they can help reduce the weight of a boot.

    Manufacturers are designing boots using newer, more modern technologies to make boots lighter and more comfortable. One thing to note with composite toe caps, you may have a smaller toe box than with a steel toe. This is because the thickness of the toe cap must be thicker in a composite toe than a steel toe in order to provide enough protection from the impact and compression as dictated by ASTM. In the end, it is more a matter of personal preference whether to go with a composite or a steel toe.


    Other factors to consider when choosing quality safety boots is whether you would like leather or fabric. Good quality leather will be more durable, and some leathers are breathable as well. If you need a waterproof boot, look for a waterproof inner liner that will also wick moisture and allow your feet to breathe. This will help prevent your feet from getting too hot and sweaty, and moisture wicking properties will help keep your feet dry.

    As a tip, a good quality wool blend sock will help keep your feet warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer by helping to keep foot temperature regulated and aids in wicking moisture. Cotton socks will just absorb foot sweat, keep your feet damp, and lead to the possibility of blisters. Cotton socks can also interfere with the moisture wicking properties and breathability of a boot. Feet that are too hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable can be a distraction from the job at hand.


    Not to be left out, consider what type of sole you need for the job that you do. Slip resistance can certainly be a factor in a lot of jobs, look for a sole that mentions it offers slip resistance. Oil and fuel resistance may be needed in some environments, and there are soles that are able to withstand exposure to these chemicals over time better than others; look for a sole that mentions it is oil and fuel resistant.

    If you are you outdoors in cold weather, you may need to consider a softer sole that won’t harden in colder temperatures, which could certainly be a hazard for slip and falls. On the flip side, however, maybe you have exposure to higher temperature surfaces and need a sole that is heat resistant. Also consider whether you need to have puncture protection in your soles, ASTM does offer puncture resistance (PR) as part of its optional testing, so be sure to look for that to be mentioned on the label.

    As mentioned, there is a wide array of safety shoe models on the market to choose from. You want to protect your feet, not only from hazards in the workplace, but you want to protect the health of your feet as well. Invest in a good quality pair of boots that will take care of your feet and your feet will take care of you. A good pair of quality boots will last longer and treat you better in the long run. Do some research and get what’s best for you, and not just what looks eye-catching on the shelf.


    It’s time for action on hand-impact injuries. Employers and workers alike need to use their heads and start protecting their hands.

    It’s time for action on hand-impact injuries. Employers and workers alike need to use their heads and start protecting their hands. And the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) should reference the American National Standard for Performance and Classification for Impact Resistant Hand Protection (ANSI/ISEA 138-2019) in federal workplace safety regulations.

    More than 42% of nonfatal occupational injuries to upper extremities in 2017 involving days away from work in private industry involved hands. Of the 286,150 nonfatal occupational injuries to upper extremities in 2017 involving days away from work in private industry, 121,860 involved hands, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

    Offshore oil and gas, construction, mining, manufacturing, warehousing and transport industries are particularly susceptible to hand-impact injuries. The International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) 2018 Summary of Occupational Incidents (published in June 2019) revealed that 29.47% of total industry lost-time incidents by body part involved fingers (20.26%) and hands/wrists (9.21%), and that 41.41% of total industry recordable incidents by body part involved fingers (31.12%) and hands/wrists (10.29%).

    Moreover, hand injuries are expensive, costing from $540 to $26,000, according to the National Safety Council — with certain types of damage being far more. And because injuries to the hand are the second-most common type of workplace injury, they have a significant impact on workers compensation claims. The National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc., found that “the preliminary 2018 average indemnity accident year claim severity increased by 3% relative to the corresponding 2017 value. Medical lost-time claim severity increased by 1%.”

    Hand-impact injuries can be especially difficult to treat and recover from, particularly if any of a hand’s 27 bones are crushed instead of cleanly broken. In addition to bone injuries, hand-impact accidents can also damage muscles, tendons and ligaments. Since healthy hand function is so essential to many tasks, the stakes are high for both employees and employers.

    The problem is not only tragic and expensive, it’s very preventable. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), 70.9 percent of hand and arm injuries could have been prevented with personal protective equipment, specifically safety gloves. Ironically, however, 70% of workers don’t wear hand protection. And of those who do, 30% don’t wear the right kind of glove for the task.

    The biggest injury risks have been dorsal or back-of-hand injuries such as bone breakage and fractures, as well as bruising and finger pinching. Up until this year, though, there was no standardized approach for protecting against those injuries, although standards and guidance were in place for certain types of hand injuries such as those caused by cuts, punctures and chemical exposure.

    The need for standards was all the more urgent, given the wide availability of glove designs with varying performance claims, and employers’ reliance on trial and error to figure out which gloves worked best in protecting against various hand-impact risk exposures.

    That’s why the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) worked with industry experts to create a standard designed for industrial gloves to protect workers. The new standard — ANSI/ISEA 138-2019, American National Standard for Performance and Classification for Impact Resistant Hand Protection — built upon the widely used ANSI/ISEA 105-2016, American National Standard for Hand Protection Classification.

    The U.S. and Europe have long had standards for industrial gloves that protect hands from cuts, punctures, abrasion and chemical exposure, but ANSI/ISEA 138 is the first standard to address the risk from impact injuries in North America. ANSI/ISEA 138 defines an agreed test method, includes three defined performance levels, specifies a pictogram mark for each of the levels for compliant gloves, and requires products be tested in a laboratory with a certificate of accreditation meeting the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025:2017 (General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories).

    ISEA’s new industrial-glove standard is a vital step toward improved hand safety, and will help employers and workers make better-informed decisions about glove selection. Copies of ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 and ANSI/ISEA 138-2019 can be purchased online from ISEA and from ANSI’s licensed resellers.

    However, the standard is only one part of the answer. ISEA also launched a #SafeHands awareness and education campaign this year, in partnership with the National Waste & Recycling Association and the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association, to help workers and employers grasp the importance of using hand protection. Our special SafeHandsAtWork.org webpage includes an informative hand safety infographic and helpful tips.

    While I hate to say accidents are inevitable, to some extent they are. Training and awareness campaigns are helpful, but they don’t entirely eliminate workplace distractions, employee fatigue or other factors that — despite everyone’s best intentions — contribute to safety lapses.

    That’s why hand protection is vital for a safe workplace. The goal is prevention, but the vital safety step — based on the reality that the goal won’t be met 100% of the time — involves providing and using proper hand protection.


    Changes said to save employers millions of dollars.

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Sept. 25 issued a final rule approving two additional quantitative fit testing protocols for inclusion in its Respiratory Protection Standard.

    Effective on Sept. 26, the day after they were issued, these new protocols represent an addition to Appendix A of the Respiratory Protection Standard. They are:

    ● The modified ambient aerosol condensation nuclei counter (CNC) quantitative fit testing protocol for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators.

    ● The modified ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing protocol for filtering facepiece respirators.

    Both protocols are variations of the original OSHA-approved CNC protocol, but have fewer test exercises, shorter exercise duration and a more streamlined sampling sequence, according to attorney Megan E. Baroni of the law firm of Robinson & Cole LLP.

    The protocols apply to employers in general industry, shipyard employment and the construction industry. “OSHA’s goal in approving these protocols is to provide employers with additional procedures to protect the safety and health of employees who use respirators against hazardous airborne substances in their workplace,” Baroni points out.

    OSHA concludes that the new rule will end up saving employers considerable money in the long run. While the information necessary for employers to document and maintain on the fit test record remains the same, the time it takes to obtain it is reduced because the additional PortaCount protocols will take an employer less time to administer, the agency says.

    As a result, OSHA estimates that the total burden hours decrease for employers will be 201,640 hours, down from 7,622,100 to 7,420,460 hours. Additional savings could result from the more efficient protocols established under the final rule, the agency states. OSHA also argues that the new protocols could result in a cost savings of more than $4 million per year to regulated entities.

    Both protocols are abbreviated variations of the original OSHA approved ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing protocol (often referred to as the PortaCount protocol), but differ from the test by the exercise sets, exercise duration and sampling sequence.

    These protocols will serve as alternatives to the four existing quantitative fit testing protocols already listed in Appendix A of the Respiratory Protection Standard. OSHA says that it found that these protocols “will maintain safety and health protections for workers while providing additional flexibility and reducing compliance burdens.”

    The original ambient aerosol CNC protocol uses a sample device installed on the respirator to quantitatively test the respirator’s fit. The probed respirator is used only for the fit test. The PortaCount protocol employs a series of eight test exercises, performed in the following order: normal breathing, deep breathing, turning head side to side, moving head up and down, talking, grimacing, bending over and then normal breathing again.

    The new quantitative fit testing (QNFT) protocols will provide employers additional options to fit test their employees for respirator use, Baroni explains. OSHA issued the rule with the expectation that it will increase employers’ flexibility in choosing fit testing methods for employees.

    Baroni notes that the new rule does not require an employer to update or replace its current fit testing methods if those fit testing methods that are currently in use meet existing standards.

    In addition, states with OSHA-approved state plans are not obligated to adopt the additional fit testing protocols. Nevertheless, the agency is strongly encouraging them to adopt the final provisions to provide additional compliance options to employers in their states.

    In this regard, OSHA concludes that the new fit testing protocols provide employers in the State Plan states with procedures that protect the safety and health of employees who use respirators against hazardous airborne substances in their workplace at least as well as the quantitative fit testing protocols in Appendix A of the standard.


    There are additional steps companies can take to mitigate arc flash hazards and remove workers from harm’s way

    An arc flash is defined as a hazardous explosion of energy from an electrical circuit, or a type of discharge that results from a low-impedance connection through air to ground or to another voltage phase in an electrical system.

    In the United States, arc flashes occur as often as five to 10 times per day. Many of these incidents result in injuries, and some are even deadly.

    Creating a heat blast of up to 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit, arc flash incidents can also damage equipment and interrupt business operations, leading to significant economic losses. The cause can be as simple as a rodent, a misplaced tool, humidity issues, or another element in the breaker area that compromises the electrical “spacing” between energized components. Essentially all electrical systems of voltages 200V or greater are susceptible to arc flash incidents.

    To protect electrical systems from these disastrous effects, electrical professionals must comply with OSHA enforced electrical safety standards in their state and local jurisdiction. The National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 70E1, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, outlines a six-step process for the proper design and installation of electrical systems: develop and audit electrical safe work practices policy, conduct an arc flash risk assessment to evaluate the likelihood of occurrence and severity of arc flash hazards, follow strategies to mitigate and control arc flash hazards, conduct regularly scheduled safety training and audits for all electrical workers, maintain electrical distribution system components and ensure adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and proper tools that act as the “last line of defense” for exposed workers.

    However, there are additional steps companies can take. Incorporating a “safety by design” approach through the engineering controls helps mitigate arc flash hazards by significantly reducing the arc flash energy levels and removing workers from harm’s way.

    Safety by Design

    The amount of arc flash energy reduction will be determined by an engineering analyses, which will always be a function of the upstream circuit breaker or fuse. This is because arcing time is the key determining factor for arc flash energy. Since incident energy is proportional to arcing time, the use of a faster-acting devices is key. As a result, proper selection of overcurrent protective devices and systems—in particular, selecting control devices that will quickly clear arcing faults from the power system—is a powerful mitigation strategy.

    There are choices for retrofitting a “safety by design” approach into switchgear, even if the system is decades old. For example, digital relays with overcurrent sensing can now be added to the low-voltage side of a service transformer designed to trip an existing upstream device. Or, light sensors capable of detecting arcs in just a millisecond can be installed within switchgear compartments. A comprehensive look at the system through a safety lens can identify the right options for almost any installation.

    Selecting an arc flash mitigation method is a challenging task for many facilities. A simple, reliable and affordable design is expected. In order to achieve this challenging task, here are a few critical questions to ask in the early stage of the system design:

    1. How can I reduce the hazard risk?

    2. What is my PPE goal?

    3. Which operations do I need a PPE, maintenance, troubleshooting?

    4. Is service continuity or equipment damage a concern for my system and process?

    5. What is my budget to achieve the goal?

    6. What is the restriction for additional construction like exhaust plenums?

    The answers to these questions will shape the system design.

    Consider these recommendations while selecting arc flash mitigation techniques: reduce AFIE (Arc Fault Incident Energy) level, or PPE, as much as possible, improve service continuity, reduce exposure to live parts, simplify commissioning and usage to reduce human risk factor, optimize cost for Capex and Opex and save space with the minimum footprint and less construction.

    Arc Flash Assessments

    Within electrical equipment, the arc flash risk can vary dramatically, and this typically results in a maximum “zone” of risk associated with the line-side of the main circuit breaker. Another zone of risk, typically an order of magnitude less, exists on the load side of the main circuit breaker. The question is, what is the sufficient isolation in between line side and load side of an electrical enclosure?

    A risk assessment should include evaluating the incident energy in each of these zones and creating an understanding of proximity risk, that is, what is the chance that an arc, created downstream of the main circuit breaker, could transfer to the line-side of the main circuit breaker? Serious consequences would result if this were to happen and the worker was wearing PPE appropriate only for the load side risk or vice versa.


    OSHA knows many factors impact workplace safety. Starting today, OSHA will put into effect its new weighting system for workplace safety and health inspections.

    OSHA inspections are getting a makeover; now, they will consider other factors outside of just a time-weighted basis. The OSHA Weighting System (OWS) will go into effect October 1, 2019, and will replace the current weighting system initiated in FY 2015.

    A new weighted inspection system comes from the growing concern that the current reliance on the factor of time does not provide a holistic evaluation of a workplace’s safety and health. OSHA understands time is not the only factor to assess when considering the potential impact of an inspection. Other factors—like types of hazards inspected and abated and effective targeting—also influence the impact on workplace safety and health. The new system includes enforcement initiatives like Site-Specific Targeting to the weighting system.

    OSHA’s new weighting system will incorporate the three major work elements performed by the field: enforcement activity, essential enforcement support functions (e.g., severe injury reporting and complaint resolution), and compliance assistance efforts. OHSA has been running the new weighting system to confirm data integrity.


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