Measuring noise levels and the exposure to noise by a worker is the most important part of a workplace hearing conservation program. It helps identify work locations where there are noise issues, employees who may be affected, and where additional noise measurements may need to be taken.
Noise provisions in Ontario Regulation 851 found under the Occupational Health & Safety Act were amended and became effective July 1, 2007. Three key requirements, which are summarized below, came into effect.
- Employers are to take all measures reasonably necessary in the circumstances to protect workers from exposure to hazardous sound levels that result in the Lex,8 exposure limit of 85 dBA being exceeded (8-hour time-weighted average exposure)
- When the exposure limit prescribed by the Regulations is exceeded, the employer is required to put in place measures to reduce workers’ exposure
- Employers must post clearly visible warning signs at the approaches to areas where the sound level regularly exceeds 85 dBA.
Noise surveys are usually conducted with dosimeters or integrated sound level meters. The survey can cover a specific area or a range of areas to provide you with a complete understanding of the sound levels found in your facility.
A noise survey is also an important component in determining if the existing hearing protection used in the facility is adequate.