Recognizing And Reducing Hazardous Noise Exposure In The Workplace

More than 20,000 workplace hearing loss cases occur each year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of these cases, unfortunately result in permanent hearing loss. With an estimated 30 million US workers exposed to noise levels high enough to cause irreversible hearing loss, it’s critical to learn how to protect against hazardous noise in the workplace.

How to determine if you are at risk in your workplace:

  • If you need to raise your voice when speaking to someone who is at arm’s length, the noise is likely at a hazardous level
  • Use the free NIOSH Sound Level Meter app to determine if the noise level in your workplace is hazardous.
  • Request that a safety manager or supervisor check noise levels to be sure they are below 85dBA.

How to reduce noise exposure:

  • Always wear hearing protection in noisy areas. If using foam plugs, be sure to insert them correctly using these guidelines from NIOSH https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/content/earplug.html.
  • Enclose the source of the noise or place a barrier between you and the source.
  • Use quieter equipment and keep equipment well maintained and lubricated.
  • Increase the distance between you and the source of the noise.
  • Reduce your time in noisy areas.
  • Take a break from noisy activity.