Are your employees working in a noisy environment? Does the machinery emit louder decibels than the acceptable limit? If it is the case, make sure your employees are properly protected!
“Noise is a frequent risk factor in a workplace,” reminds Bev Borst, Technical Service Specialist at 3M Canada. Hearing loss is certainly the most serious consequence of overexposure. Fortunately, she specifies that “hearing loss is 100% preventable.”
The acceptable decibel level may vary in Canada, according to each province and local government.
The 4 key steps to restore the situation
The implementation of a hearing conservation protection program will allow you to identify the required criteria to protect your workers. Bev Borst suggests setting up a 4 key steps program.
1. Evaluate noise exposure
First, list the various noise sources and measure their loudness using a sound level meter. The sound can come from machinery, tools or be work related (hammer blows, etc.) If you prefer, a team of professionals can perform this assessment for you.
2. If there is a danger, eliminate or reduce exposure
The easiest solution is to eliminate the source. Unfortunately, it may not always be possible! In this case, and according to your point of view, two adjustments are available to you:
- Modify the workplace in order to reduce the decibels. For example, you can seek the help of engineers to help you install sound barriers.
- Modify the work schedule to reduce exposure time. Instead of working 8 hours in a hazardous environment, a reduced shift would lower the risks.
3. Offer hearing protection
If you cannot change the work conditions, you need to distribute protective equipment.
The two most popular products are earplugs and earmuffs. Bev Borst explains the one is not better than the other but criteria such as comfort, fit, protection level and compatibility are important factors to consider. “The best tool is the one preferred by the employee,” she adds.
4. Organize trainings
Your employees must know about the dangers they must face and understand why hearing protective equipment is necessary. The more workers are aware of the risks, the more they will take the right decisions.
Afterwards, remember to have your program assessed periodically to ensure its efficiency! You can conduct audiometric tests to monitor worker’s hearing. It is also important to regularly review your hearing conservation program and update as required.
SPI is available to supervise your entire program. Our team of experts will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the situation and will advise you on the implementation of a program.