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Occupational Noise Exposure

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State Standards

There are twenty-eight OSHA-approved State Plans, operating state-wide occupational safety and health programs. State Plans are required to have standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA's and may have different or more stringent requirements.

This section highlights OSHA standards, Federal Register notices (rules and proposed rules), directives (instruction to OSHA staff), letters of interpretation (official letters of interpretation of the standards), other federal agency's standards and guidance, and national consensus standards and recommendations from other professional organizations related to Noise.

OSHA Noise Regulations

Noise and hearing conservation is addressed in specific standards for recordkeeping and general industry. For information on construction employment, see the construction requirements section.

Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, often referred to as the General Duty Clause, requires employers to "furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees". This section may be used to address hazards for which there are no specific standards, e.g. noise in agricultural operations.

Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness Standards (29 CFR 1904)
Related Information

Subpart C – Recordkeeping forms and recording criteria

1904.10, Recording criteria for cases involving occupational hearing loss
General Industry Standards (29 CFR 1910)
Related Information
Subpart G – Occupational health and environmental control 1910.95, Occupational noise exposure


Appendix A, Noise exposure computation


Appendix B, Methods for estimating the adequacy of hearing protector attenuation


Appendix C, Audiometric measuring instruments


Appendix D, Audiometric test rooms


Appendix E, Acoustic calibration of audiometers


Appendix F, Calculations and application of age corrections to audiograms


Appendix G, Monitoring noise levels non-mandatory informational appendix


Appendix H, Availability of referenced documents


Appendix I, Definitions
Other Federal Agency's Standards and Guidance

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)

  • 49 CFR 227, Occupational Noise Exposure for Railroad Operating Employees. Requires railroads to conduct noise monitoring and implement a hearing conservation program for employees whose exposure to cab noise equals or exceeds an 8-hour TWA of 85 dBA. This final rule became effective February 26, 2007.
  • 49 CFR 229, Railroad Locomotive Safety Standards

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

  • Occupational Noise Exposure. Publication No. 98-126, (June 1998). Includes revisions to previous 1972 recommendations that go beyond attempting to conserve hearing by focusing on preventing occupational noise-induced hearing loss.

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)

  • DoD Hearing Conservation Program. Instruction No. 6055.12, (December 3, 2010). Includes exposure limits and requirements for monitoring, control methods, hearing conservation programs, and more as part of the hearing conservation program.

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Consensus Standards and Recommendations from other Professional Organizations

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

  • S3.1-1999 (R2008), Maximum Permissible Ambient Noise Levels for Audiometric Test Rooms. Specifies maximum permissible ambient noise levels (MPANLs) allowed in audiometric test rooms.
  • S3.44-1996 (R2006), Determination of Occupational Noise Exposure and Estimation of Noise-Induced Hearing Impairment.
  • S3.6-2010, American National Standard Specification for Audiometers. Includes specifications and tolerances for audiometers and standard reference threshold levels for audiometric transducers.
  • S12.6-2008, Methods for Measuring the Real-Ear Attenuation of Hearing Protectors. Specifies laboratory-based procedures for measuring, analyzing & reporting passive noise-reducing capabilities of hearing protection devices.
  • S1.4-1983 (R2006), American National Standard Specification for Sound Level Meters. Establishes performance and accuracy requirements for sound level meters.
  • S1.25-1991 (R2007), American National Standard Specification for Personal Noise Dosimeters. Contains specifications for performance characteristics of personal noise dosimeters.

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH)

  • ACGIH has established exposure guidelines for occupational exposure to noise in their Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) (85 dBA PEL with a 3 dBA exchange rate).
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