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According to the CDC, an estimated 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work each year. Work-related noise-induced hearing loss is preventable and employers can take a variety of actions to reduce hazardous noise exposure. TSI Product Specialist Andrea Ruane identifies 3 tips for preventing noise-induced hearing loss in the workplace.
Noise exposure study results can vary greatly depending on which standard you measure against, so it is important that you know which ones you are required to comply with. Despite US regulations (OSHA PEL) being at a higher decibel level, as a best practice many US companies are moving toward measuring against the ACGIH standard as part of their hearing conservation program. The ACGIH standard uses a criterion level of 85 dBA and an exchange rate of 3 dBA. A criterion level of 85 dBA and a 3 dBA exchange rate are commonly used globally. Below are some key differences in dosimeter settings between a few common standards.
Differences Between OSHA HC, OSHA PEL, and ACGIH Dosimeter Settings
All Quest Edge noise dosimeters come pre-programmed to measure against the OSHA HC and OSHA PEL standards. The Edge 5 is pre-programmed to measure against OSHA HC, OSHA PEL, and ACGIH standards. The dosimeter settings can be changed in Detection Management Software to measure against country-specific regulations around the world.
Think about the hierarchy of controls when looking at ways to reduce noise exposure and prevent noise-induced hearing loss at your workplace. Control measures at the top of the hierarchy are potentially more effective than those lower on the hierarchy. According to the hierarchy, PPE is potentially the least effective way of protecting workers! For more information on hierarchy of controls see NIOSH’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/reducenoiseexposure/noisecontrols.html.
Below are some practical measures that employers can take in addition to requiring employees to wear PPE:
Sound level meters are ideal for evaluating the effectiveness of noise control measures. They allow an employer to measure sound levels before and after implementing a noise control measure. Some sound level meters have the capability to determine the frequencies that a noise is composed of. Using this information, employers can purchase a noise control solution designed to attenuate that frequency range.
Find more information on Quest sound level meters.
In order to protect workers from hazardous noise exposure, it is important to know the level of noise exposure. Sound level meters can be used to conduct walk-through noise surveys to determine where problem areas are located at your workplace. Personal noise dosimeters are an ideal way to measure a worker’s full-day noise exposure. Wireless technology is making the safety professional’s job to monitor employee noise exposure easier than ever. The Edge 4+ Bluetooth-enabled noise dosimeter allows safety professionals and industrial hygienists to:
Find more information on the Edge 4+ noise dosimeter.