How Much Worksite Noise Is Too Much?

onstruction worker on scaffolding

Worksite noise causes hearing loss

As reported by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), hearing loss caused by worksite sounds is is an increasingly important issue to be aware of, with an estimated 22 million workers exposed to potentially dangerous noise at work each year.

In 1981, OSHA regulations were adopted which required employers to create a Hearing Conservation Program if their workers were routinely exposed to a time-weighted average noise level of 85 A-weighted decibels (dBA) or higher during an eight-hour shift. OSHA's maximum exposure limit also accounts for workers exposed to higher noise ranges, mandating they be exposed fewer hours per day when noise exceeds a certain level.

According to EHS Today, OSHA approved Hearing Conservation Programs require employers to do the following:

  • Measure and mitigate noise levels
  • Distribute free hearing protection
  • Provide free annual hearing exams
  • Conduct training on the topic of hearing protection
  • Evaluate the adequacy of the hearing protection equipment anytime worksite noise exceeds the 85-dBA level

Certain industries are more prone to loud worksite noises than others. Workers who are employed in construction, logistics, lawncare, mechanics, and other operations in which noisy power tools and heavy equipment are commonly implemented are at a high risk of hearing loss from worksite noise and should be cognizant of their rights under federal law.

Other loud environments include working in a bar or nightclub, in a movie theater or concert venue or even in an office setting where loud, high pitched noise from printers or other electronic devices keep up a continual hum. This kind of constant background noise often causes hearing loss in a specific range, which can worsen and spread with age until hearing loss becomes extreme or tinnitus sets in.

Using hearing protection on worksites and in work environments where loud and/or constant noise is a given can help reduce risk.

Hearing loss caused by worksite sounds is is an increasingly important issue to be aware of, with an estimated 22 million workers exposed to potentially dangerous noise at work each year.