Every year approximately 30 million workers experience hazardous noise exposure on the job. Over 9 million are at risk for severe hearing loss from occupational exposure to noise, which remains a persistent cause of employee illness in the workplace, and can even put you at risk for heart disease.
Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common occupational diseases and is the second most self-reported occupational illness or injury.*
Many manufacturing processes, machinery, and equipment produce high noise levels, which can lead to hearing problems. For reference, a normal conversation is typically about 60 dB, cars and trucks range around 70 to 90 dB, and sirens and airplanes can reach 120 dB or more. Anything over 70-80 dB is considered unhealthy.
Estimates suggest that roughly a third of people in Europe and the US are regularly exposed to unhealthy levels of noise, and numerous studies link chronic exposure to environmental noise like traffic and airplanes to a greater risk of high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and increased stress.+
Providing proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and worksite health and wellness programs that target noise-exposed workers are several ways you can help employees feel safer. However, manufacturers also need to make sure their company complies with the OSHA regulation for noise hazards to maintain a safe working environment and avoid paying heavy penalties for serious violations.
Here are three ways that we can help identify and manage potential hazards within your facility:
- Get Educated – Register for our Introduction to Noise Evaluation and Control Course offered several times a year in-person or online as a self-guided class with live office hours.
- Be Proactive – Schedule a Free Safety Consultation with our experts. We will conduct noise monitoring at your facility to determine what actions are needed to protect your employees and keep you in compliance with the OSHA regulation.
- Think Long Term – Whether you are creating a safety plan, scaling up production or reassessing the plant floor layout, utilizing the 5s and 6s principles of Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain (and Safety), you can strategically turn work areas into clean, organized, and safe spaces.
For more information on Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, please visit gamep.org. To learn more about our safety training and services for manufacturers visit oshainfo.gatech.edu and sign up for our Safety Connect Newlsetter.
*Us, Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA Regional Instruction, Regional Emphasis Program (REP) for Noise Hazards, 2019
+Hansen, C., 2021, Why noise pollution is bad for your heart, https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210315-why-noise-pollution-is-bad-for-your-heart
Writer: Raine Hyde