Noise exposure affects people in all industries including at home and in public settings. Whether you are working at a manufacturing plant, using power tools at home, listening to music in your car, or sitting in a busy restaurant – overexposure or prolonged exposure to noise can lead to a variety of health effects including hearing loss. Noise 85 decibels (dB) or greater, for more than eight hours a day, can cause permanent hearing loss.
There are many things companies and employees can do to recognize and reduce noise hazards. To begin with, consider getting advice from a qualified Occupational Hygienist. They can help isolate specific noise-related hazards, prioritize your needs, and offer solutions to ensure you are providing a noise-safe environment for your workers. It is vitally important to recognize and control noise levels at the source early to avoid serious injury including deafness. Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable so remember to recognize it early.
How to know if your workplace may need a noise control program
Ask yourself and a sampling of employees the following questions:
- Do I need to raise my voice while I'm in the workplace?
- Do I have ringing in my ears?
- On my way home from work, do I need to increase the volume of my radio or digital music player higher than what it was on my way to work?
- When I'm in a noisy environment with competing noises (e.g., a restaurant or a social gathering). is it difficult to hear other people?
If you and the people you survey answer yes to these questions, look into conducting a more formal assessment.
You can find out more about the noise regulation online at www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r15381