What is a safe level of noise in the workplace?

On Behalf of | Apr 25, 2022 | Workers' Compensation

Hearing loss can occur from a one-off incident such as an explosion, yet explosions are not an issue in most workplaces. Most workers suffer hearing loss due to continued exposure to excessive noise.

According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the noise level you need to be concerned about is 85 decibels or more. A rough guide is whether you need to raise your voice to talk to someone standing within a meter of you. If you do, then your workplace may well be damaging your hearing.

What types of jobs bring the risk of hearing loss?

You might be surprised at the variety of workplaces where the noise is dangerously high. You do not need to be working in a shipyard, manufacturing plant or as a roadie for a heavy metal band. Here are a few examples of jobs where noise could be an issue:

  • Traffic cop: City traffic is often around 85 decibels for those inside a vehicle. If you are standing outside trying to direct the traffic, the noise reaching your ears could be louder, especially if frustrated drivers start hitting their horns.
  • Gardener: The dream of gardening is peaceful and relaxing. Yet if you need to use leaf-blowers or lawnmowers, make sure you use protection. Those machines can hit the 85 decibel mark.
  • Vehicle mechanic: Motorcycles can run around 95 decibels. Cars are usually quieter unless they have a broken or intentionally loud exhaust.

If you suffer hearing loss at work, you do not need to show your employer was at fault as workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance. That said, if your workplace is loud, your employer should be providing ear protection and doing their best to isolate the source of the sound where possible.