OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are using a contest to challenge inventors and entrepreneurs to help develop a technological solution to workplace noise exposure and related hearing loss.

That contest is entitled, aptly, 'Hear and Now - Noise Safety Challenge.' It has dual goals: to inspire inspiring creative ideas and to raise business awareness of the market for workplace safety innovation. Ten finalists will get to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges at an October 27, 2016 event in Washington, D.C. that will include investors, representatives of the NIOSH Research to Practice Program and representatives of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The competition is open to all ideas related to occupational hearing protection. Suggested topics include:

  • Technology that will enhance employer training and improve effective use of hearing protection.
  • Technology that alerts workers when hearing protection is not blocking enough noise to prevent hearing loss.
  • Technology that allows workers to hear important alerts or human voices while remaining protected from harmful noise.

Every year, 22 million workers risk losing their hearing from workplace noise hazards. Hearing loss disability costs businesses an estimated $242 million annually in workers' compensation.

The competition is open to the general public, including OSHA contractors and special government employees. However, employees of federal OSHA, "state plan" states and on-site consultation programs are not eligible.

Idea submissions are due by September 30. More information and a link to submit ideas can be found at www.dol.gov/featured/hearing.