Hearing Protection Required!

Hearing Protection Required!

According to OSHA, twenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. U.S. businesses pay more than $1.5 million in penalties annually for not protecting workers from noise, and hearing loss directly impacts the quality of life not only for those workers but also their families.

Workers who are exposed to high levels of noise can suffer permanent hearing loss and then sometimes not even surgery or a hearing aid can help. In addition, even repeated exposures to loud noise for just short periods of time can add up to permanent damage to hearing.

Safety signs from Mysafetysign.com

Safety signs from Mysafetysign.com

OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.95(c)(1) The employer shall administer a continuing, effective hearing conservation program… whenever employee noise exposures equal or exceed an 8-hour time-weighted average sound level (TWA) of 85 decibels… without regard to… the use of personal protective equipment.
  • Workers must be protected from hazardous levels of noise.
  • Workplace noise is measured using special noise monitoring equipment and the levels are displayed in decibels.
  • Normal speaking voice is usually around 70 decibels (dB) and operating a loud construction excavator is usually around 110 dB.
  • OSHA regulations state that 85 decibels (dB) is the action level where workers may need to use hearing protection.
Diagram of various sound levels and examples.

Diagram of various sound levels and examples.

OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.95(i)(1) Employers shall make hearing protectors available to all employees exposed to an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels or greater at no cost to the employees. Hearing protectors shall be replaced as necessary.
  • Hearing protection must be provided for the level and/or range of noise that workers will be exposed to during their work hours.
  • Different types of devices may be used depending on the work environment as well as the hazardous noise.
  • Where noise levels are extremely dangerous or potential impact noise levels are present workers may have to wear two layers of hearing protection such as a combination of ear plugs and ear muffs.
Example packages of ear plugs with rating levels and limits on the labels.

Example packages of ear plugs with rating levels and limits on the labels.

OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.95(i)(3) Employees shall be given the opportunity to select their hearing protectors from a variety of suitable hearing protectors provided by the employer.
  • Never improvise hearing protection by stuffing cotton, tissue, wax or other items into your ears.
  • Items can get stuck in the ear canal and in severe cases puncture the ear drum.

OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.95(i)(4) The employer shall provide training in the use and care of all hearing protectors provided to employees.

OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.95(i)(5) The employer shall ensure proper initial fitting and supervise the correct use of all hearing protectors.

Remember these important tips to avoid hearing loss while on the job:

  • Workers who are exposed to high levels of noise can suffer permanent hearing loss.
  • Workers must be protected from hazardous levels of noise.
  • Workers must pay attention to all signs and warnings of potentially dangerous noise levels.
  • OSHA regulations state that 85 decibels (dB) is the action level where workers may need to use hearing protection.
  • Hearing protection must be provided for the level and/or range of noise that workers will be exposed to during their work hours.
  • Never improvise hearing protection by stuffing cotton, tissue, wax or other items into your ears.
  • Proper personal protective equipment such as ear plugs or ear muffs must be maintained and worn correctly at all times.

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Keeping Young Workers Safe

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