As many as 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise every day at work. To combat that significant occupational health and safety challenge, OSHA, MSHA and NIOSH developed the “Hear and Now” Noise Safety Challenge. Open to the entrepreneur community, the challenge offered 10 inventors, selected from 28 challenge submissions, the opportunity to travel from all over the United States and Canada to present their solutions to better protect workers from hazardous noise.

"Co-hosting the first Noise Safety Challenge was an opportunity for NIOSH to work with new partners in a novel way,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “Entrepreneurs like these are an essential part of the occupational safety ecosystem as is engaging the inventor spirit to solve other occupational safety and health challenges.”

The judges awarded first place to Nick Laperle and Jeremie Voix for their eers™ product, a custom-fitted earpiece designed to provide a worker with protection, communication and monitoring. Laperle noted the goal of his company was to make hearing loss “a thing of the past.”

Second place was awarded to Brendon Dever and his company Heads Up Display Inc. The Heads Up product is wearable sensor technology. The sensor, which is affixed unobtrusively to glasses or protective equipment such as hardhats, detects noise levels and provides warnings and other communications via color-coded lights.

Third place was awarded to Madeline Bennett on behalf of her company Otogear. Otogear’s product is an interchangeable decorative attachment that attaches to silicone earplugs. The attachments are manufactured with licensed designs for sports teams, businesses or music festivals.

“This event was an innovative way for government to help better protect workers from job-related hearing loss by connecting the entrepreneurial community with inventors developing solutions,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.

The other selected ideas included hearing protection devices, hardware/software combinations within the Internet of Things (IoT), audiometric measurement and tracking tools, and analysis systems. These include:

  • Ted Smith – Corvex Connected Safety™
  • Manesha Kachroo and Bibex Das – iPING
  • John Johnson – Sert-A-Plug
  • Dr. Joe Shargorodsky and Dr. Wolfgang Haupt – Agilis Health, Inc.
  • Dr. James Craner – webOSCAR™
  • Rudy McEntire – EarJellies
  • Les Blomberg – TTS Detector

The challenge was launched with the dual goals of inspiring creative ideas and raising business awareness of the market for workplace safety innovation. For more information and pictures, visit the DOL Hear and Now webpage.