Workplace Noise Testing, Noise Dosimetry, Noise Mapping, Hearing Conservation – HELP!
If you need a noise survey for OSHA compliance, dosimetry and noise testing as discussed in this article call us at 1-800-344-4414 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for details and a free estimate.
Written By: Robert E. Sheriff, MS, CIH, CSP, President
February 3, 2020
Workplace Noise Testing
OSHA requires a noise dosimetry survey to determine if workers are exposed to noise that could damage their hearing. This can be a daunting task.
To satisfy OSHA’s requirement for Noise Surveys (29CFR1910.94 for General Industry, 29CFR1926.52 for Construction) involves attaching a noise dosimeter to a worker for a work shift when there is a possibility that person and persons performing similar tasks may be exposed to noise at or above the 85 dB (decibels) Action Level or the regulatory level of 90 dB earmuffs. Just using a hand-held sound level meter is not adequate for a proper noise survey.
The noise dosimeter is a small meter either worn on the belt with a line to a microphone clipped to the collar OR the newer dosimeters are only the size of a candy bar and worn on the collar.
Please note that the dosimeter is not a recorder—it takes a noise reading at ½ or 1-second intervals and accumulates the readings over a shift.
The read-out is then compared to the OSHA Hearing Conservation limit of 85 dB-A for an 8-hour work shift and the 90 dB-A compliance level for an 8-hour day.
Another important aspect of a noise survey is to perform a “Noise Map” of the work area particularly those areas that are between 85 and 90 dB requiring the implementation of a Hearing Conservation Program. Also noted on the Noise Map should be areas where the noise levels are at or above the 90 dB-A—the Permissible Noise Exposure limit for an 8-hour shift.
Noise exposure levels 85-90 dB-A requires a Hearing Conservation Program including annual audiometric testing and availability of hearing protection. At 90 dB-A and above, hearing protection is mandatory as is an effort to reduce noise exposure levels through engineering means.
These noise map measurements can be useful in determining what areas are contributors to the workers’ noise exposures and also useful in establishing locations where noise reduction may be necessary to achieve OSHA compliance.
Since many organizations have work shifts other than 8-hours (often 10-hour or 12-hour shifts) there are formulas for calculating the allowable noise exposure levels for such shifts.
There are specific regulatory requirements in the OSHA Noise Standards related to 1) Program Requirements, 2) Hearing Protection, 3) Audiometric Testing, 4) Training, and 5) Administrative or Engineering Controls required if the exposures are at or above the “Hearing Conservation” level of 85 dB-A or at or above the 90 dB-A Permissible Exposure Limit or Regulatory Limit.
For more information contact Atlantic Environmental.
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