Workplaces can get very loud. And while many of us are doing our jobs from home, understanding the rules and regulations can better prepare you for when you return to the office.
Occupational Safety and Health Act
In 1970, the groundbreaking Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was passed. This established clear guidelines, standard protections and safety regulations that employers have to follow to keep their workers safe.
One important part of OSHA is the regulation of hazardous noise levels as they pertain to hearing loss.
Noise Exposure at Work
OSHA mandates the exposure to continuous noise above 85 dB, the widely accepted safe level of noise, be monitored. With each increase in decibels, the maximum amount of time an employee is allowed to be exposed to that noise per day decreases.
The regulations are as follows:
A hearing conservation program must be instituted when an employee is exposed to eight hours or more of noise exposure above 85 dB.
Employers must monitor all noises (continuous, intermittent and impulse) between 80 and 130 dB.
Employees must be informed of the risks of noise-induced hearing loss and all additional health risks associated with noise exposure.
A baseline hearing evaluation must be given to employees who have been exposed to loud noises within six months of employment. After the baseline assessment, employees must be provided with a yearly evaluation completed by a licensed audiologist; this exam must be free of charge.
Employees exposed to hazardously loud noises are required to be provided with hearing protection.
Employers must conduct a yearly training about the importance of hearing protection for all employees who are exposed to more than eight hours of noises measuring 85 dB or higher.
Records must be kept of all employees’ exposure to unsafe noise levels.
The Rights of Workers
While OSHA lays out regulations for employers to follow, it is important to understand your rights as a worker. You have the right to a safe place to work and freedom from being affected by noises loud enough to cause hearing loss.
Additional workers’ rights include:
The ability to request a workplace inspection if an employee feels that their employer is not complying to the safety requirements.
Training in a language they understand on the hazards of working in a noisy environment and how they can properly protect themselves.
Receiving a copy of their audiograms and any other information obtained at their hearing evaluation.
Receiving a copy of their health records and ability to review the records kept by their employer about their illnesses or work-related injuries.
The ability to use these rights without fear of retaliation or discrimination from their employer. Understanding these rights can ensure that employers create a safe space and employees can work without fear of being injured. To learn more about the dangers of loud noises, contact the experts at Indiana Hearing Specialists.