Streamline - Winter 2015 - (Page 19)
Hearing Protection -
Keep Your Employees Safe
BY GARY GANDEE, CIRCUIT RIDER #2
wearing my what?" Thousands of workers every year suffer from preventable hearing loss due to high workplace
noise levels. Hearing protection at work can help prevent this.
"IF I WaS
Exposure to high levels of noise can
cause permanent hearing loss. Neither
surgery nor a hearing aid can help correct this type of hearing loss. Short term
exposure to loud noise can also cause a
temporary change in hearing (your ears
may feel stuffed up) or a ringing in your
ears (tinnitus). These short-term problems may go away within a few minutes
or hours after leaving the noisy area.
However, repeated exposures to loud
noise can lead to permanent tinnitus and/
or hearing loss.
Loud noise can also create physical
and psychological stress, reduce productivity, interfere with communication and
concentration, and contribute to workplace accidents and injuries by making
it difficult to hear warning signals.
What are the warning signs
that your workplace
may be too noisy?
Noise may be a problem
in your workplace if:
* You hear ringing or humming in
your ears when you leave work.
* You have to shout to be heard by a
co-worker an arm's length away.
* You experience temporary hearing
loss when leaving work.
How loud is too loud?
Noise is measured in units of sound
pressure levels called decibels, named
after Alexander Graham Bell, using
A-weighted sound levels (dBA). The
A-weighted sound levels closely match the
perception of loudness by the human ear.
Decibels are measured on a logarithmic
scale, which means that a small change in
the number of decibels results in a huge
change in the amount of noise and the
potential damage to a person's hearing.
OSHA sets legal limits on noise exposure in the workplace. These limits are
based on a worker's time weighted average over an eight hour day. With noise,
OSHA's permissible exposure limit
(PEL) is 90 dBA for all workers for an
eight hour day. The OSHA standard uses
a 5 dBA exchange rate. This means that
when the noise level is increased by 5
dBA, the amount of time a person can
be exposed to a certain noise level to
receive the same dose is cut in half.
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 occupational noise induced
hearing loss. NIOSH has found that
significant noise-induced hearing loss
occurs at the exposure levels equivalent
to the OSHA PEL based on updated
information obtained from literature
reviews. NIOSH also recommends a 3
dBA exchange rate so that every increase
by 3 dBA doubles the amount of the
noise and halves the recommended
amount of exposure time.
An effective hearing conservation
program must be implemented by
employers in general industry whenever
OSHA sets legal limits
on noise exposure in the
workplace. These limits
are based on a worker's
time weighted average
over an eight hour day.
worker noise exposure is equal to or
greater than 85 dBA for an eight hour
exposure, or in the construction industry when exposures exceed 90 dBA for
an eight hour exposure. This program
strives to prevent initial occupational
hearing loss, preserve and protect
remaining hearing, and equip workers with the knowledge and hearing
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Streamline - Winter 2015
From the President: Performance Evaluation
From the Executive Director: Save the Date!
Professional or Job Holder: Which Will You Be?
Emergencies: Do You Have A Plan?
Finding Your Way
Hearing Protection – Keep Your Employees Safe
Economic Opportunity: USDA Rural Development/Virginia
Rate Setting – It’s Easy?
Throwing My Loop: Fresh Water
Do You Know What Your VRWA Benefits Are?
2015-2016 Membership Directory
Board of Directors
VRWA Members Corner
Index to Advertisers/Ad.com
Streamline - Winter 2015