Safety Tips

Hearing Protection

Noise at Work

Noise is one of the most common hazards in the workplace. Thousands of workers are exposed to hazardous noise. Many industries and processes in Saskatchewan have noise levels that are so high, they can damage your hearing. If the sound is loud enough and exposure is long enough, your hearing will be damaged.

Do you get a ringing in your ears after being at work?
Do your ears feel plugged, or are sounds muffled after work?
On your way home, do you have to turn the car radio volume louder than it was when you came to work?
Do you have trouble following conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time?
Do you have to strain to understand conversations?
Do you get confused about where sounds come from?

If your answers to these questions are "yes," then chances are you are exposed to too much noise. Additional noise from sports, recreation, or hobbies can add to the damage to your hearing. Even loud music from stereo systems or noisy entertainment in bars and nightclubs can add to the damage to your hearing.

Noise Exposure Levels Decibels (A)

Soft Whisper 30

Average Home 50

Conversational Speech 60

Noisy Restaurant 80

Gravel Trucks 83-93

Lawnmowers 90-95

Dozer Operation 93-97

Drilling Rigs @1 m from motors 90-100

Woodworking Shop 100

40-lb Jackhammer 108

Chainsaw 110

Sandblasting 112

Disco, Rock Band 120

Jet Plane 140

Gunshot Blast 140

*LONG EXPOSURE to noises over 85 dBA may eventually lead to hearing loss. You are affected by noise depending on:

Loudness
Pitch
Length of Exposure
Length of Time Between Exposures
Previous Ear Trouble

WE ARE EXPOSED TO EXCESSIVE NOISE AT HOME, WORK, & PLAY.AND NOBODY IS IMMUNE TO THE LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF NOISE!

The Right Protection

If workers are exposed to noise at a worksite in excess of 85 decibels, an employer must develop a hearing conservation plan.

When engineering controls cannot eliminate the noise hazards, hearing protection provides a secondary means of reducing workers' noise exposure.

Hearing protection must be selected and provided in accordance with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards or applicable legislation.

Hearing Protectors

Wearing hearing protectors reduces the level of noise reaching the ears. Improper fit and irregular use greatly reduces the effectiveness of hearing protectors.

Selecting Hearing Protection

Your employer must comply with the current applicable provincial legislation.

You must use the correct hearing protection for the job.
The protection must be comfortable enough for you to wear during all exposure to noise.
Noise reducing capability of a hearing protector is given as NRR (Noise Reduction Rating). To determine the amount of noise reduction, subtract 7 from the given NRR (i.e., A hearing protector with a NRR of 28 will provide a maximum noise reduction of 21 dBA).

Hearing Protection Devices

Earplugs

Earplugs are inserted to block the ear canal. Properly inserted you will feel a slight sensation of pressure, your voice will sound louder and resonate.

Employers must instruct workers in how to insert earplugs
You must wash soiled hands before inserting earplugs
You must throw away single use earplugs after each use

Canal Caps

Canal caps are comprised of two earplugs held over the ends of the ear canal by a rigid headband.

Earmuffs

Earmuffs are comprised of sound attenuating material and soft ear cushions, which fit around the ear, and hard outer cuffs. They are held together by a headband.

Proper care of Hearing Protection:

REFER to manufacturer's instructions
REPLACE ear cushions or plugs that are no longer pliable
REPLACE unit when headbands are so stretched that they do not keep ear cushions snugly against the head
DISASSEMBLE earmuffs to clean
WASH hearing protectors with a mild liquid detergent in warm water, and then rinse in clear warm water
ENSURE that sound attenuating material (inside cushions) does not get wet
USE a soft brush to remove skin, oil and dirt which can harden ear cushions

Comparison of Hearing Protection:

Earplugs

Advantages:

Small and easily carried
Convenient to use with other personal protective equipment (can be worn with earmuffs)
More comfortable in hot, humid work areas
Convenient for use in confined work areas

Disadvantages:

Require more time to fit
Difficult to insert and remove
Require good hygiene practices
May irritate the ear canal

Earmuffs

Advantages

Less attenuation variability among users
Designed so that one size fits most head sizes
Easily seen at a distance to assist in monitoring their use
Not easily misplaced or lost
May be worn with minor ear infections

Disadvantages

Less portable and heavier
Inconvenient for use with other protective equipment
Uncomfortable in hot, humid work areas
Inconvenient for use in confined work areas

For more information, refer to current applicable Occupational Health and Safety Legislation.