While anyone who works can be at risk for possible noise-induced hearing loss, some workplaces are more hazardous than others. Workers in the following industries are more likely to be exposed to dangerous noise levels: agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing and utilities, transportation, and military.

You would never even think that a surprising number of restaurants, nightclubs and bars can be in violation of OSHA.

OSHA noise standards consist of a two-stage program:

  • A hearing conservation program must be implemented when employees are exposed to 85 dB or more in an 8-hour day. These programs include annual audiometric testing and require hearing protection, such as earplugs, to be worn during business hours. The typical restaurant operates at an 80 dB level, but some can reach as much as 110 dB!
  • Engineering or administrative noise controls are required when exposure exceeds 90 dB. Engineering controls include redesigning the space to reduce machinery noise, replacing machinery with quieter equipment, enclosing the noise source or enclosing the noise receiver. Administrative controls include mandating the length of time an employee can be exposed to a particular noise source.

Failing to address OSHA regulations can be a pricey mistake. Total penalties for OSHA violations in 2002 exceeded $72.8 million! Business owners that willingly violate OSHA regulations, including those relating to noise, can be penalized between $5,000 and $70,000. If a previous violation is not addressed and corrected, civil penalties up to $7,000 a day can be enforced. Even if the violation isn't life threatening, but still has the potential to impact job safety and health, the business can be penalized up to $7,000. Keep in mind, OSHA representatives can stop by to conduct noise readings at any given time.

Visit OSHAnoise.com to learn more about the OSHA Noise Standards.

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