Hearing protection

If noise levels in your lab exceed 85 dB, engineering or administrative controls are required to reduce the risk of occupational noise-induced hearing loss. If you think your lab has harmful noise levels (e.g. if it is difficult to carry on a conversation), contact the Safety Office at ext. 33587 for an assessment. The Safety Office will do sound measurements and recommend the method and amount of attenuation required and the available types of hearing protection.

Engineering controls such as sound absorbing panels or enclosure of the noise source can greatly reduce noise levels.

Administrative controls such as limiting the amount of time workers are exposed to excessive noise are also effective.

The use of Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs) may be necessary to reduce personal exposure to excessive noise.  This could be in the form of:

  • Earplugs (including semi-inserts)
  • Earmuffs
  • Helmets, with or without electronic communication capabilities

Every HPD has a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) typically ranging from about 20-30dB.  Due to variability and improper insertion when looking at the NRR of a HPD you should derate the value by about 50% for earplugs and about 30% for earmuffs.