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Safety Update: OSHA and Hearing Conservation

Source: Safety Daily Advisor

OSHA’s required hearing conservation program (29 CFR 1910.95) kicks in when workers are exposed to a time weighted average noise level of 85 dB or higher over an 8-hour shift. If you have to shout to be heard by another person 3 feet from you, the noise level is probably above 85 dB.

The program requires employers to measure noise levels, train employees, provide free annual hearing exams and hearing protection, and conduct evaluations of the adequacy of the protection.

Engineering or administrative controls are required when exposure exceeds the permissible exposure limit, 90 dB.

NIOSH recommends that all worker exposures be controlled below a level equivalent to 85 dB for 8 hours. The institute also recommends a 3 dB exchange rate, which means that every increase by 3 dB doubles the amount of noise and halves the recommended exposure time. OSHA’s exchange rate is 5 dB.