Workplace Noise Hazards and Regulations – Excessive noise is a common problem faced by workers in an industrial setting. Activities like drilling, crushing, metal cutting, riveting, and blasting are known to produce high levels of noise, which can damage your hearing in the long term.
Determining Noise Problem at the Workplace
The noise is loud enough to damage your hearing if, while standing at least a meter away from a machine, you need to raise your voice to be able to talk to someone. Similarly, after a day’s work, if your hearing is slightly muffled or if you have a ringing sound in your ears, it is a consequence of being exposed to loud noise.
Existing Noise Regulations and Implementation
The two important regulations on workplace noise levels established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) include:
- Workers can be exposed to a noise level of 90 decibels only for eight hours during a workday, after which they should be provided with hearing protection.
- If there is an increase of five decibels in the noise level (95 decibels), workers can be exposed to it only for four hours, after which they should be provided with hearing protection.
Many experts, however, believe that the maximum acceptable noise level that workers can be exposed to should be reduced to 85 decibels. Research also shows that an increase of three decibels could double the risk of hearing loss in workers. So, existing regulations are not sufficient to prevent machine workers from being exposed to excessive noise on a regular basis.
Establishing and Implementing Regulations
First of all, there is a distinct lack of focus on the issue of workplace hearing loss, which is why regulatory bodies have failed to come up with stringent rules and standards. The Office of Noise Abatement and Control is the only federal body that focuses on the issue of hearing protection, but it ceased to receive funding from the government a long time ago.
Secondly, and more importantly, the interests of big business always stand in the way of strict regulations, which is also the case with noise level regulations.
Back in 2010, OSHA tried to enforce a regulation which made it mandatory for employers to soundproof the working area if it is deemed too noisy, instead of making workers wear hearing protection. The attempts to enforce the regulation, however, were met with strong opposition from influential organizations like the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, who claimed that the regulation would increase the cost burden of employers significantly. As a result, OSHA had no choice but to withdraw the proposal.
Workplace Hearing Loss – Deserves Attention
Lack of funding at the state and federal level, as well as the reluctance of big industries to comply with higher standards and follow stricter regulations, are the reasons why we have substandard hearing protection laws in the country. But no employer is stopping any employee from wearing hearing protection. Hearing protection is widely available in different forms in home improvement stores all over the US, so there are some positives here.
To prevent workers from exposing themselves to high noise levels, the shortcomings in the existing regulations need to be addressed and – if necessary – new rules need to be brought into force.
Watch YouTube Video: Hearing Loss: Myths & Facts – Safety Training Video – Causes & Prevention. This safety training video discusses myths and facts about hearing loss and provides tips that can help prevent ear damage.
Machine Accident Lawyers in Sacramento
I’m Ed Smith, a machine accident lawyer in Sacramento. Exposure to an excessive noise level in the workplace could cause a severe hearing loss for workers. If you or someone you know has experienced hearing loss at work, call me today for a free consultation at 916-584-9355.
Since 1982, I’ve helped numerous residents in Sacramento and throughout Northern California to receive full compensation for their wrongful death and personal injury cases.
Photo by: pixabay.com / Workplace Noise Hazards and Regulations.
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