Workers in any industry who are exposed to high levels of noise can suffer permanent hearing loss. Understand the employer's responsibility and the employees' rights when it comes to hearing protection.
According to OSHA, twenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. U.S. businesses pay more than $1.5 million in penalties annually for not protecting workers from noise, and hearing loss directly impacts the quality of life not only for those workers but also their families.
Workers who are exposed to high levels of noise can suffer permanent hearing loss and then sometimes not even surgery or a hearing aid can help. In addition, even repeated exposures to loud noise for just short periods of time can add up to permanent damage to hearing.
OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.95(c)(1) The employer shall administer a continuing, effective hearing conservation program… whenever employee noise exposures equal or exceed an 8-hour time-weighted average sound level (TWA) of 85 decibels… without regard to… the use of personal protective equipment.
OSHA Construction Standard 1926.52(b) When employees are subjected to sound levels exceeding those in Table D-2 of this section, feasible administrative or engineering controls shall be utilized. If such controls fail to reduce sound levels within the levels of the table, personal protective equipment as required in Subpart E, shall be provided and used to reduce sound levels within the levels of the table.
OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.95(i)(1) Employers shall make hearing protectors available to all employees exposed to an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels or greater at no cost to the employees. Hearing protectors shall be replaced as necessary.
OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.95(i)(3) Employees shall be given the opportunity to select their hearing protectors from a variety of suitable hearing protectors provided by the employer.
OSHA Construction Standard 1926.101(c) Plain cotton is not an acceptable protective device.
OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.95(i)(4) The employer shall provide training in the use and care of all hearing protectors provided to employees.
OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.95(i)(5) The employer shall ensure proper initial fitting and supervise the correct use of all hearing protectors.
OSHA Construction Standard 1926.95(b) Where employees provide their own protective equipment, the employer shall be responsible to assure its adequacy, including proper maintenance, and sanitation of such equipment.
Remember these important tips to avoid hearing loss while on the job:
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