b"standard: a permissible exposure limit of 90 decibels, measured on the A scale (90 dBA); and an action Can You Hear Melevel of 85 dBA. Both are measured using an 8-hour, Now? Preventingtime-weighted average (TWA). Noise exposure can be determined with a sound level meter for area Hearing Loss insampling, or with a personal noise dosimeter worn by the Workplaceemployees for a full shift that determines their dose of noise exposure (100% dose is equal to the permissible exposure limit of 90 dBA TWA). NIOSH William McCaffreyhas a free app that turns your phone into a sound level meter (currently only available for iOS devices). A good rule of thumb is that you may have a noiseMore than 48 million people are affected by hearingproblem if workers have to shout to communicate loss in the United States. One of the most commonwith each other. causes of hearing loss is exposure to loud noise, referred to as noise induced hearing loss. The CentersWhen noise exposure equals or exceeds the action for Disease Control and Prevention have called noiselevel of 85 dBA, employees must be enrolled in a induced hearing loss the most common work-relatedHearing Conservation Program to protect their injury. Workers in the mining, construction, andhearing. Elements of a Hearing Conservation Program manufacturing industries are most likely to be exposedinclude audiometric testing, training, and hearing to dangerous levels of noise. Many times, hearing lossprotection. Audiometric testing establishes a workers is accompanied by tinnitus, a ringing in the ears thatbaseline hearing level, which is compared to annual can affect concentration and disrupt sleep. Exposure torechecks to catch potential hearing loss as early as loud noise also can cause stress, anxiety, high bloodpossible. Training must also be conducted annually, pressure, heart disease, depression, and other healthwith an emphasis on the effects of noise exposure on issues.hearing and the importance of hearing protectors. The cost of annual audiograms, annual training, and Controlling noise exposure is a key element of anyhearing protective devices should always be workplace safety and health program. The Hierarchyconsidered when determining the economic feasibility of Controls is a method of selecting the mostof engineering controls. Noise control engineering appropriate control measure when a workplace hazardwill often be cheaper in the long run than a Hearing has been identified. It is often depicted graphically asConservation Program. an upside-down pyramid with five layers: elimination, substitution, engineering, administrative, and personalExposure to loud noise does not just damage your protective equipment (PPE). The most effectivehearing; it can have a detrimental effect on overall control measure is at the top of the pyramid, and thequality of life. Noise-induced hearing loss can lead to least effective control is at the bottom. Oftentimes,social isolation and depression. Stress from noise more than one control measure is needed, but oneexposure can raise blood pressure and the risk of heart should always consider control measures higher on theattack and stroke. Acoustic and noise insulation can hierarchy first.improve your workers overall well being. In addition to making your workplace safer and more productive, Engineering and administrative controls are not just acontrolling noise exposure can make your employees recommended best practice, they are required byhealthier and happier. Noise insulation is a win-win federal regulation when noise levels are too high.for employers and employees. Reprinted with permission from Insulation Outlook magazine. CopyrightOSHAs standard on occupational noise exposure2023 National Insulation Association. All rights reserved.states that feasible administrative or engineering controls must be utilized first, and only then can PPE be used to further lower employee noise exposure.William McCaffrey is a Board Certified Safety Professional Hearing protection in the form of ear plugs or earwith over 25 years of construction safety experience. He is muffs should be a last resort after engineering andVice President, Environmental Health and Safety for Irex administrative controls have been used.Contracting Group (www.irexcontracting.com) and Vice Chair of NIA's Health and Safety Committee. Mr. McCaffrey has worked for general, mechanical, electrical, and specialty Like most OSHA health standards, the standard oncontracting firms in the industrial and commercial occupational noise exposure starts with an exposureconstruction markets. He can be reached at assessment. There are two trigger levels in the noise WMcCaffrey@irexcorp.com. 18"