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Occupational Noise Program


Excessive noise levels may permanently or temporarily damage a person's hearing. Whenever possible, employees should reduce noise levels to an acceptable level. The following table outlines OSHA limits for acceptable noise exposure indicated as decibels (dB).

Duration/Day (Hours)

Sound Level (db)

8

90

6

92

4

95

3

97

2

100

102

1

105

½

110

¼ or less

115

 

 Hearing loss can be permanent - wear protective equipment when noise levels are high.

Before using personal protective equipment, such as ear plugs or muffs, to reduce noise exposure, try to reduce noise levels by changing work procedures. Maintenance practices, such as the following, can reduce noise levels:

  • Replacing worn or loose machine parts
  • Performing high-noise operations during hours when people are less likely to be affected
  • Maintaining and lubricating equipment to eliminate rattles and squeaks

 The following figure illustrates various noise levels:


Various Noise Levels

Various Noise Levels

Engineering controls, such as the following, can also reduce noise levels:

  • Replacing noisy materials.
  • Using large, low speed fans.
  • Considering the noise level of new equipment or processes before purchasing or implementing.
  • Placing heavy machines on rubber mountings.
  • Using sound-absorbing acoustical tiles or baffles.
  • Placing noisy machinery or operations in a separate area or room
  • Enclosing noisy conveyors

Areas that may require hearing protection include machine shops, the power plant, etc. Observe all warning signs and wear hearing protection whenever necessary. Do not interfere with, remove, or modify noise abatement equipment. Keep all equipment properly maintained, and report any malfunctions immediately.

Refer to the chapter on Personal Protective Equipment for more information on hearing protection. Direct all questions regarding hearing conservation to EHSRM - who monitors noise levels.


Revised May 2011
Reviewed November 2014