Construction sites are filled with noisy equipment. Workers who are exposed to high noise levels on a daily basis run the risk of permanent hearing damage or loss. Sadly, construction workers experience the second highest rate of exposure to hazardous noise levels.
Construction managers must make noise assessment part of every job. This can help workers to be aware of which areas of the jobsite will experience dangerous noise levels so they can wear the appropriate PPE.
Any noise over 85 dB (decibels) has the potential to cause harm. A bulldozer averages 100dB, 110dB for a chainsaw and hammering a nail comes in at 120dB.
It’s not enough to provide protective equipment, managers have to make sure they are comfortable and fit perfectly. Even 1/8 of an inch gap is enough to render PPE aimed at noise reduction useless. Ensuring comfort will mean workers are more likely to use PPE to protect hearing.
Protective gear should fit well with other gear and PPE and should allow the worker to still hear so that warning bells, alarms and equipment can be heard.
Construction managers should educate workers on the dangers of hearing loss and encourage regular checkups to ensure workers catch any issues early on.
Get a complete outline of the OSHA hearing protection guidelines here.