The Department of Labor (DOL) is challenging inventors and entrepreneurs to develop a solution that would reduce workplace noise exposure and combat related hearing loss by launching the “Hear and Now - Noise Safety Challenge.”

According to the DOL, 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.

Idea submissions are due by September 30. Ten finalists will be invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges on October 27 in Washington D.C. The event will feature 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.

More information and a link to submit ideas can be found at