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Compliance with Workplace Safety Regulations: OSHA Standards for Hearing Protection 

 April 8, 2024

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Employees routinely exposed to loud noise on the job can experience permanent hearing loss. When applicable, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires businesses to provide protective equipment and take other measures to prevent hearing loss.

How Noise on the Job Can Affect Employees’ Hearing

Repeated exposure to loud noise can kill nerve endings in the inner ear and cause hearing loss that cannot be remedied with surgery or medication. While hearing aids can be helpful, the damage is irreversible. The permanent loss of hearing can have a devastating impact on workers’ ability to communicate and their overall quality of life.

OSHA’s Rules Related to Hearing Protection

If workers are exposed to noise at or above 85 decibels when averaged over an 8-hour work period or an 8-hour time-weighted average, they can suffer hearing damage. If employees are exposed to unsafe noise levels, the company must take action to protect them from hearing loss.

The steps that a business takes will depend on the specific circumstances. In some cases, the company might be able to modify employees’ schedules and work locations to limit each individual’s noise exposure.

Providing personal protective equipment is often the best way to protect workers’ hearing. On a construction site, for example, employees who use and work around heavy equipment can wear earplugs or ear muffs. PPE must be provided to employees at no cost to them.

Under some circumstances, the company will have to modify the work site or equipment to protect employees from hearing loss. In a factory, for instance, the company might isolate loud machines so that workers are exposed to less noise throughout the day, modify loud machines to make them quieter or replace them with equipment that produces less noise. 

Your Company’s Responsibilities

If you’re concerned about the amount of noise at your business, you can use a sound-measuring instrument, such as a sound level meter, noise dosimeter, or octave band analyzer, to measure noise levels and find out if they’re at a dangerous level. If workers have complained about temporary hearing loss, ringing in their ears, or shouting to hear each other, your company should take action to remedy the situation.

You will have to figure out which approach or combination of approaches will be appropriate for your business. If personal protective equipment is necessary, you can order what you need from 1st Aid Supplies. We offer ear muffs, as well as both reusable and disposable ear plugs, in addition to other types of PPE. Place an order today.

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