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Occupational Noise Exposure

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Occupational Noise Exposure Menu

Overview

Twenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. Last year, U.S. business paid more than $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting workers from noise.

While it's impossible to put a number to the human toll of hearing loss, an estimated $242 million is spent annually on workers' compensation for hearing loss disability.

Each of the elements below is critical to understand in order to ensure that workers are being protected where noise levels are unable to be reduced below the OSHA required levels.

Standards

Noise and hearing conservation is also addressed in specific OSHA standards for Recordkeeping and General Industry.

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Health Effects

Noise-induced hearing loss limits your ability to hear high frequency sounds and understand speech, which seriously impairs your ability to communicate. Hearing aids may help, but they do not restore your hearing to normal.
Hearing loss is pervasive. It is also preventable.

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Exposure & Controls

Exposure to loud noise kills the nerve endings in the inner ear. More exposure will result in more dead nerve endings. The result is permanent hearing loss that cannot be corrected by surgery or medicine.

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Hearing Conservation

Hearing conservation programs strive to prevent initial occupational hearing loss, preserve and protect remaining hearing, and equip workers with the knowledge and hearing protection devices necessary to safeguard themselves.

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Construction

Noise and hearing conservation is addressed in specific standards for Construction. Provides information related to noise in construction including OSHA's noise construction regulations, national consensus standards and recommendations from other professional organizations, health effects and general resources.

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Additional Resources

Sources that provide helpful information about occupational hearing loss and aid in addressing noise challenges in the workplace.

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Workers' Rights

Workers have the right to:

  • Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
  • Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
  • Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA's rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
  • Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA. If a worker has been retaliated against for using their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days.

For additional information, see OSHA's Workers page.

How to Contact OSHA

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627.

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