Maintain Compliance While Improving Program Efficiency, Employee Experience and Reducing Costs
In 2017, a large energy corporation decided to bring their occupational hearing testing program in-house. To do so, they chose SHOEBOX Audiometry, and since then, they have saved money, improved productivity, added new levels of reportability, and enhanced the employee experience. They estimate that making the shift from service provider to in-house hearing testing has saved the company thousands of dollars in lost productivity.
The corporation is a publicly-traded company and one of the most prominent players in the American power industry. They are one of the largest investor-owned electric utility, and they currently operate seven power stations with an eighth on the way. They provide power to more than 843,000 people in Oklahoma and Arkansas, covering 276 towns and cities. And they are an economic engine in the communities they serve, including being one of the most significant contributors to local charitable causes such as the United Way.
For more than a century, this company has earned a reputation for being a safe place to work. Their Occupational Health Coordinator is responsible for all health-related programs. She takes pride in bringing the latest health and safety innovations to their employees at 2,500 power plants. It was this forward-thinking that led her to SHOEBOX after reading about the portable, tablet-based audiometer in a 2017 CAOHC newsletter.
They started by leasing two SHOEBOX systems and eventually added a third. In the beginning, she had concerns about how to get started. This technology was new to her, and the task of taking on the testing herself seemed daunting. But her concerns were soon alleviated. The SHOEBOX team has helped hundreds of companies like hers make this shift and was able to guide her through the process as well.
“The SHOEBOX customer support has been nothing but great; there’s nothing negative I can say about SHOEBOX,” adding that she’s recommended the systems to her peers in the industry.
Like many companies, this energy corporation had been using a mobile testing service before switching to SHOEBOX. The mobile vans would come onsite annually for three-to-five days. The occupational health coordinator had to schedule upwards of 100 employees over this short period of time. Where the trucks parked was not always in a convenient location for the employees, and inevitably, roughly ten percent of employees would miss their scheduled appointment – for any variety of reasons – requiring a reschedule of their tests at an off-site clinic. But mostly, she heard complaints about the testing conditions.
“It was hot. If the air conditioner was running in the truck, it would cause background noise that would interfere with the test. So we had to turn it off. People would open the door to enter the truck, even when the light was on, indicating there was a test in progress,” she explains. “The size of the booth was a problem for some of our employees. It was simply too small for them, making it almost impossible to shut the door.”
Today, hearing testing is done much differently across all of their sites. The company opted to lease space in a neighboring building to create an on-site clinic. Testing is conducted in quiet, comfortable rooms. She can schedule testing on a rolling schedule, seeing employees twice a week for the first three weeks of each month in her new clinic. SHOEBOX has made it possible for her to take back control of her testing schedule, and she estimates that she currently tests 439 workers annually. She is also regularly visited by both a doctor and an audiologist, who conclude that the test results produced are accurate and valid.
“Making this switch has resulted in huge cost savings for us. We’re no longer paying to bring the service provider on-site. We’re not being charged mileage to drag a huge trailer between our facilities, and I’m only paying for one technician who helps administer testing. But most importantly, our productivity isn’t impacted by annual testing days — and retests at the clinic. And our new clinic is climatized. Our employees find this much more enjoyable.”