Accuform: How Loud is Too Loud?
Every year, twenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise in the workplace. Last year, U.S. businesses paid around $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting workers from noise. As you can see, that’s an extremely high price for not being safe.
To turn down the noise volume or monitor the severity of it in the workplace, hearing conservation programs are put in place by OSHA 1910.95 for occupational noise exposure.
While hearing conservation programs strive to prevent initial occupational hearing loss, it’s impossible to place an exact number on the toll of hearing loss. Something like an estimated $242 million is still spent annually on workers’ compensation for hearing loss disability.
An effective hearing conservation program must be implemented by employers in the general industry whenever worker noise exposure is equal to or greater than 85 A-weighted decibels (dBA) for an 8-hour exposure or in the construction industry when exposures exceed 90 dBA for an 8-hour exposure, per OSHA.
A hearing conservation program requires employers to measure noise levels, provide free annual hearing exams, hearing protection, and training, and conduct evaluations of the adequacy of the hearing protectors in uses – unless changes made to tools, equipment, and schedules result in worker noise exposure levels that are less than the 85 dBA.
Once it’s gone, it’s gone
Hearing loss is the third leading major public health issue, affecting 48 million Americans, or 20% of the adult population, per John Hopkins Medicine and the Hearing Loss Association of America.
Not sure what the dB levels look like – here’s an example:
- 20 dB – Ticking clock
- 30 dB – Chirping bird
- 50 dB – Rainfall
- 80 dB – Average noise level during NetPlus distributor/supplier meetings
- 90 dB – Lawnmower
- 120 dB – Car stereo
- 150 dB – Jet airplane
Hearing conservation programs strive to prevent initial occupational hearing loss, preserve and protect remaining hearing, and equip workers with the knowledge and hearing protection devices necessary to safeguard themselves.
Workplaces can do their part by continually displaying and measuring the decibel levels to warn workers when they need to wear ear protection with Decibel Meter Sign from Accuform.
Learn more here by watching our video here.