Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention
Occupational safety and health professionals use the Hierarchy of Control to determine how to implement feasible and effective controls. This approach groups actions by their likely effectiveness in reducing or removing the noise hazard.
Elimination Or Substitution: In most cases, the preferred approach is to eliminate the source of hazardous noise. When elimination is not possible, substitution of the loud equipment for quieter equipment may be the next best alternative to protect workers from hazardous noise.
Engineering and Administrative Controls: To the extent feasible, engineering controls, administrative controls, and work practices shall be used to ensure that workers are not exposed to noise at or above 85 dBA as an 8-hour TWA. Engineering controls require physical changes to the workplace such as redesigning equipment to eliminate noise sources and constructing barriers that prevent noise from reaching a worker. If engineering controls are not feasible, employers an explore potential administrative controls, such as scheduling that will minimize exposure, providing quiet and convenient lunch and break areas.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): When all options for eliminating or reducing the noise at the source are exhausted, hearing protection devices such as earplugs or earmuffs should be made available to workers, at no cost, to sufficiently attenuate noise so that their “real-world” exposure is below 85 dBA as an 8-hour TWA.
To access information and additional resources on controlling noise exposure, engineering controls, and preventing hearing loss, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/reducenoiseexposure/noisecontrols.html.
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health