Noise, Noise, Noise!!!
Do you remember the Grinch becoming annoyed with all the “noise, noise, noise!”? I don’t think the people of ‘Whoville’ generated near the amount of noise heard by our workforce today! Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common work-related injury in the United States and exposes nearly 22 million U.S. workers to noise loud enough to damage their hearing.
Good news for the Grinch! The CDC recently released their new, “Buy Quiet” program http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/buyquiet/.
Buy Quiet is a prevention initiative which:
- Encourages organizations to purchase or rent quieter machinery and tools to reduce worker noise exposure. This is accomplished when new businesses start up or when older equipment is replaced.
- Provides information on equipment noise levels, so organizations can buy quieter products that make the workplace safer.
- Encourages manufacturers to design quieter equipment by creating a demand for quieter products.
Noise-induced hearing loss can’t be reversed, but it is 100% preventable. NIOSH recommends that workers should not be exposed to noise at a level that amounts to more than 85 decibels (dBA) for 8 hours. Buy Quiet can help you stay below the recommended exposure level for noise.
There are several levels to controlling noise in the workplace.
In most cases, the preferred approach is to eliminate the source of hazardous noise. When elimination is not possible, substitution of the loud equipment for quieter equipment may be the next best alternative to protect workers from hazardous noise.
Personal protective equipment (PPE), such as ear plugs or other hearing protection devices, is the last option in the hierarchy of control. PPE is generally less effective than elimination, substitution, and engineering controls because they rely on human actions to reduce noise.
Here are a few tips to help reduce noise in your workplace:
- Buy Quiet – select and purchase low-noise tools and machinery
- Maintain tools and equipment routinely (such as lubricate gears)
- Reduce vibration where possible
- Isolate the noise source in an insulated room or enclosure
- Place a barrier between the noise source and the employee
Even the Grinch would be happy with NIOSH’s efforts to reduce noise!
Well, maybe not the Grinch but certainly your Keenan Loss Control Consultant!