Noise is a set of loud, unpleasant and unorganized sound. It has the tendency of causing temporary or permanent hearing damage.
According to OSHA, Twenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year.
Hearing damage could be temporary or permanent. Temporary hearing damage is reversible while permanent hearing damage is irreversible.
How do you know the level of noise you are being exposed to?
If you are operating an equipment, most times the noise level of the equipment is written on the body of the equipment – Example 112dB. The dB means decibels which is the approved unit for it’s measurement.
Also, the picture placed at the beginning of this article will also serve as a guide.
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What is the approved noise limit
OSHA sets legal limits on noise exposure in the workplace based on a worker’s time weighted average over an 8 hour day. OSHA’s permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 90 dBA for all workers for an 8 hour day.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended that all worker exposures to noise should be controlled below a level equivalent to 85 dBA for eight hours to minimize hearing loss.
What should I do if am in a very noisy environment
If it’s within you power, move away from that location.
If you cannot move away from that location, report to your superior and request for hearing protection device.
OSHA recommends “Hearing Conservation Programs”. This program require employers to measure noise levels, provide free annual hearing exams and free hearing protection, provide training, and conduct evaluations of the adequacy of the hearing protectors in use unless changes to tools, equipment and schedules are made so that they are less noisy.
General control plan
It can be controlled at this three (3) levels:
- Engineering/Substitution control: Engineering controls involve modifying or making related physical changes at the source or along the transmission path to reduce the noise level at the worker’s ear. Substitution requires exchanging the noisy equipment with less noisy one.
- Administrative control: Reducing the exposure limit via job scheduling.
- Provide hearing protection device like the ear plug or ear muff.