Acceptable Levels of Noise in the Workplace

Jul 17, 2015 | WC & Other Laws

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency of the US Department of Labor, approximately 30 million people are exposed to harmful noise. Due to high level of noise, a large sum of workers suffers hearing loss. Most of the affected workers came from noisy workplaces, factories, machinery plants, construction sites, and foundries.

Decibels are units of sound pressure levels for measurement of noise using A-weighted sound levels (dBA). A-weighted sound levels tend to give a specific classification using single numbers of noise level by incorporating the different sound levels at all frequencies and to a scale for noise level as experienced by the human ear.

Sound levels range from 0db, the threshold of hearing, and up to 140db, the threshold of pain. Other properties of noise in the workplace that could be considered for measurement are frequency, sound pressure, sound power, and time distribution.

Guidelines for employers

In 1981, the OSHA implemented new guidelines regarding the safety and protection of all workers. Included in these guidelines for employers was the implementation of a Hearing Conservation Program. Limits on noise exposure in the workplace were given by the OSHA and these were based on a worker’s time weighted average over an 8-hour day. 90 dBA for all workers for an 8 hour day with standard 5 dBA exchange rate is the permissible exposure limit issued by OSHA.

In other words, every time the permissible exposure limit exceeds by 5 dbA, the amount of time of exposure to a definite sound level decreases half of the current duration. To prevent further hearing loss, OSHA also required employers to provide free Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs) to employees exposed at or above the permissible exposure limit.

Protection Required

In Denver, Colorado, if a worker suffered injuries in the workplace, he/she could file a complaint with the help of a Greeley workers’ compensation attorney or a Denver workers’ compensation lawyer after the employer provided medical service from a designated physician according to the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act.

Related: Doctors and Workers’ Compensation: The Choice is Yours

According to this act, injuries related to hearing loss were classified as permanent partial disabilities. It could also be either scheduled or non-scheduled injuries. These types of injuries are covered in the said act. The compensation benefits if the complaint is approved are: first, two-thirds of the average weekly wage (AWW) that the worker receiving on the date of injury; second, if the worker have missed more than 3 days or 3 shifts due to a work-related injury or illness, he/she may be eligible to receive wage replacement benefits known as temporary disability benefits, and; lastly, the worker should not be billed for any authorized medical bills and expenses directly related to or resulting from the injury.

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