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Hearing Loss Widespread Among American Workers
February 16, 2023
Many companies should be heeding the regulations published in OSHA’s General Industry (29 CFR 1910.95) and Construction (29 CFR 1926.52 and 29 CFR 1926.101), which govern when to address occupational noise exposure in the workplace. According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated “22 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year.” A hearing conservation program is required if noise exposure is at or above 85 decibels averaged over 8 working hours, or an 8-hour time-weighted average. These programs are designed to prevent initial occupational hearing loss, and give workers the knowledge and protection devices necessary to safeguard their hearing. OSHA suggests that employers use “quieter machines, isolating the noise source, limiting worker exposure, or using effective protective equipment” that can modulate noise below certain thresholds. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has a tool called a Sound Level Meter App that employers and workers can use. It provides guidance that facilitates informed decisions about exposures.
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