Pomerene Hospital Blog
Workplace Noise Exposure
Exposure to high levels of noise can cause permanent hearing loss. Short term exposure to loud noises may also lead temporary change in hearing causing ringing in your ears. Repeated exposures to loud noise can lead to permanent tinnitus and/or hearing loss.
As an employer the effects of noise exposure can not only be hazardous to your employees but can also effect the bottom line. Loud noise can 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. The effects of noise induced hearing loss can be profound, limiting your ability to hear high frequency sounds, understand speech, and seriously impairing your ability to communicate.
Exposure to Noise is measured in units of sound pressure levels called decibels. There are several ways to control and reduce worker exposure to noise in a workplace where exposure has been shown to be excessive.
Administrative controls are changes in the workplace or schedule that reduce or eliminate the worker exposure to noise.
Operating the loudest machines during shifts when fewer people are exposed, limiting the exposure time, and providing quiet areas are examples of effective and inexpensive administrative controls. It is worth noting that every time you double the distance between the source of noise there is a reduction in decibels of 6dBA.
Engineering controls involve modifying or replacing equipment, or making physical changes at the noise source or along the transmission path to reduce the noise level at the worker's ear.
Choosing low-noise tools and machinery, maintaining and lubricating machinery and equipment placing a barrier such as walls or curtains between the noise source and employee and enclosing or isolating the noise source are all examples of ways to control noise exposure via engineering.
Noise exposure can be an often overlooked area in workplace safety. Make sure that you are protecting your workers and keeping them productive by controlling their exposure.Blog written by: Cory Morris, PA-C