Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety
IN THIS ISSUE: Evaluating Exposure to Impact Noise
Exposure to impact noise at work can harm workers’ health. In fact, impact noise may be a greater risk factor for noise-induced hearing loss than continuous noise of the same magnitude. Nevertheless, noise dosimetry testing for compliance with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Hearing Conservation requirements, does not include impact noise in noise measurements.
“Despite current standards, drop hammers, stamping presses, or even a single gunshot can permanently damage a workers’ hearing,” explains Gary R. Ticker, CIH, CSP, of OccuSafe, Inc. “These examples of impact noise may cause hearing loss even without long-term exposures.”
Impact noise may cause a Temporary Threshold Shift, a transient loss of hearing exhibited after a brief intense noise that dissipates over a short period of time. Given sufficient recovery time, based on the frequency and intensity of the noise, the effect may be temporary. Continued exposures can make the threshold shift permanent.
How can impact noise exposure be reduced?
- TESTING: Most dosimeters will determine if 140 dB, a common benchmark for impact noise, has been exceeded. Please keep in mind that current methods of evaluating impact noise may be imprecise.
- CAUSATION: If noise exposure exceeds 140 dB, it is important to determine the cause. A sound level meter can be used to identify sources of high noise levels.
- CONTROLS: If impact noises are a regular part of the job, engineering controls should be implemented to bring exposures below 140 dB.
- PROTECTION: If engineering controls are not effective, hearing protectors may offer adequate protection. OSHA requires that employee exposure to more than 140 dB peak sound pressure level must wear hearing protection.
OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate andcontrol hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.
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