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Noise

Noise

Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is noise?

Noise and vibration are both fluctuations in the pressure of air (or other media) which affect the human body. Vibrations that are detected by the human ear are classified as sound. We use the term 'noise' to indicate unwanted sound.

What is hearing conservation?

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

What are the hazards associated with noise?

Exposure to high levels of noise can cause permanent hearing loss. Short term exposure to loud noise can also cause a temporary change in hearing or a ringing in your ears (tinnitus). These short-term problems may go away within a few minutes or hours after leaving the noise. However, repeated exposures to loud noise can lead to permanent tinnitus and/or hearing loss.

Loud noise can create physical and psychological stress, reduce productivity, interfere with communication and concentration, and contribute to workplace accidents and injuries by making it difficult to hear warning signals. The effects of noise induced hearing loss can be profound, limiting your ability to hear high frequency sounds, understand speech, and seriously impairing your ability to communicate.

Solutions

Solutions

What can I do to protect myself?

Whether at work or away from work, when working with loud equipment (e.g., leaf blowers, chain saws) or hunting with firearms, be sure to wear the appropriate type of hearing protection.

Employers are required to implement a hearing conservation program when employees are exposed to noise at a level equivalent to 85 decibels as an 8-hour time-weighted average. This includes initial and annual audiometric testing to enable hearing loss to be identified early and to monitor the effectiveness of the employer's program.

What resources are available to assist employers?

Other applicable resources can be found on the A-Z topics page for personal protective equipment. The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.

Further, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). The education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. Lastly, the consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.

Regulations

Regulations

What standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards for noise in North Carolina:

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to ask.osh@labor.nc.gov or by calling 919-707-7876.