Combat Noise Hazards In Workplace

Everywhere you are in the workplace, there is noise.  Exposure to workplace noise hazards can cause permanent hearing loss that can’t be corrected with surgery or even a hearing aid device.  Hearing loss from noise exposure is usually not noticed because it is gradual.  Generally a person loses the ability to hear higher pitches first.

Other hazards that noise contributes to include, but not limited to;

  • Creating physical and psychological stress.
  • Reduce productivity.
  • Reduce product quality.
  • Interfere with communication and concentration.
  • Be a contributing root cause factor in workplace injuries and incidents.

What can be done to reduce noise hazards in the workplace?

Noise in the workplace

Prevention of noise as an occupational hazard can be managed in three ways:

  • Engineer out the hazard. Includes modifying or replacing equipment.
  • Establish administrative controls such as operating noisy machinery during shifts with fewer workers are exposed.
  • Provide personal protective equipment such as earplugs to protect workers from occupational noise.

The best option is to apply engineering methods to either eliminate or minimize the hazard to an acceptable level of risk.  The reduction of a few dB’s can make a world of difference of improving noise related annoyance.

Labels and Sign Do Protect Workers From Noise Hazards

Do workers pay attention to labels and signs in the workplace that specify occupational hazards warnings and caution specifications?  Yes.  Labels and signage should be part of the communication procedure of any employer so that hazards, such as noise, can be repeated and reinforced every day.  The caution of using labels and signs is to not overdue it.  Too many can become a distraction and therefore be avoided by workers to review.

Labels and signs warn workers about noise hazards within their department or specifically at their workstation.   Customizing labels and signage is a great way to increase attention of workers by providing specific job related information about hazards and preventible measures.

Hearing conservation program

The purpose of a hearing conservation program , applicable to both general industry and construction industry, is to lay the foundation of preserving and protecting worker hearing.  A hearing conservation program equips workers with the knowledge and hearing protective devices necessary to protect them from noise emissions.  A few key components of an effective hearing conservation program include:

  • Conducting noise sampling at the worksite that include the use of personal monitoring devices. These devices will indicate which workers are exposed to noise hazards.
  • Informs workers about the risks from noise hazards and the results of the noise sampling process.
  • Provides worker training that educates workers on the purpose and deviation consequences of not complying with engineering, administrative or the use of personal protective equipment. An example would be consequence such as the severity of hearing loss.
  • Ensure proper selection of personal protective equipment based upon individual fit and manufacturer’s testing.
  • Annual audiometric testing program (hearing tests). A professional evaluation of the health effects of noise for individuals exposed to noise hazards, worker’s hearing.
  • Provide worker training on the proper use of personal protective equipment, maintenance and care.

In closing, noise is frequently present in the workplace.  Prevention and mining noise hazards is therefore necessary to protect worker’s safety and well being.  How well this hazard is managed takes both parties; employees and employer, to work together to combat noise hazards in the workplace.

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