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Noise Conservation

by Dr. Isabel Perry, “The Safety Doctor”



382 words


NOISE is everywhere – at home, at work and everywhere in between!  There is some level of noise wherever we are.  Because it is so pervasive, we tend to tune it out, unless it is very loud or particularly annoying.  Perhaps the fact that we do tune it out is the most dangerous thing about noise. As a result, noise, or undesirable sound is the most widespread of occupational health problems facing the work environment today.


We’ve all found that after leaving a noisy location, our ears were ringing and we couldn’t hear as well for a few minutes – or maybe longer.  Whether the noise level is loud or soft, it can affect our hearing.  Hearing loss may be temporary or permanent.  Temporary loss is usually due to short-term exposure and diminishes after a period of time.  Permanent loss is usually a result of long-term exposure and some level of normal hearing will be lost for an indefinite period. 


On the work site, exposure to noise level above 85 dBA (decibels) can result in “noise-reduced hearing loss.”  Companies must provide any worker who is going to be exposed to noise above permissible levels with hearing protection.  A selection of different types of hearing protectors should be provided for employees, so that they can choose comfortable ones that will sufficiently reduce the level of noise.  Training should also be provided in the use and care of hearing protectors.


The beginning of a good hearing protection program is the identification of noise in the workplace.  Once this has been done, it is possible to look at means of reducing the noise level or protecting workers from potential hearing loss.


OSHA requires that the first level of protection must be “engineering controls” reduction.  The company must look at ways to reduce the noise level.  The second step is hearing protection.  Sometimes both are needed.  Whenever the working conditions change, the protection in use must be re-evaluated.


Audiometric tests and a record of their results must be kept for the entire employment of a worker.  All workers should be aware of the importance of noise control and hearing protection.  Making everyone conscious of the potential dangers can help reduce the likelihood of hearing loss and make it easier to identify and correct noise problems in the workplace. 


Dr. Isabel Perry is an internationally-known safety expert, motivational speaker, author, and safety educator.  Based in Orlando, Florida, she can be reached at 407-291-1209 or via e-mail at [email protected]