Industrial Hygiene

January 21st, 2016

Loud workplaces causing hearing loss, lower productivity

OSHA estimates that 30 million people in the US are exposed to sound_levels_smallhazardous noise levels at their workplaces each year. Since 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that nearly 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss.

A recent study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that long-term exposure to excessive noise may lead to increased risk for heart disease.  Past research also linked noise exposure to coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and other illnesses.

For businesses, excessive noise can lead to lower productivity, reduced communication and concentration, and more workplace accidents and injuries.

How do you know if your workplace is too loud?

  • You hear ringing or humming in your ears when you leave work.
  • You have to shout to be heard by a coworker an arm’s length away
  • You experience temporary hearing loss when you leave work

OSHA sets legal limits on noise exposure, based on an 8 hour day.  For most workplaces, the OSHA permissible exposure limit is 85dBa (A-weighted sound levels).  For construction sites, that level is raised slightly to 90 dBa.

If you are concerned about the noise levels at your workplace, Gabriel can help you measure area sound levels and monitor noise exposure. If noise levels exceed OSHA limits, Gabriel can also help you develop an effective hearing conservation program.

Contact Steve Sawyer, CHMM at ssawyer[at]gabenv.com or 773-486-2123, or Bill Gray at bgray[at]gabenv.com or 773-617-0288, with any questions or for a quote on a noise assessment.

Visit OSHA’s website for more information on Occupational Noise Exposure.