OSHA Noise Exposure Limit
According to OSHA, noise exposure over 85 decibels (dB) can cause hearing loss. Normal day-to-day living exposes us to all kinds of noise, much of which can impact our hearing at a later date.
Obviously, we can’t avoid noise. But, in many cases, we can protect ourselves by being proactive and using hearing protection in situations where prolonged noise exposure is a risk or reality.
Here are some parameters to help you determine acceptable — and dangerous — noise levels:
- 45 dB: nightly noise ordinance threshold set by many municipalities concerned with industrial noise exposure for residents
- 65 dB+: exposure for prolonged periods can cause physical and mental fatigue
- 85 dB+: can cause permanent hearing loss if exposed for extended periods of time
- 85-120 dB: dangerous over 30 minutes of exposure
- 120-130 dB: can cause permanent hearing loss for exposure over 30 seconds
- 130 dB+: not only are these noises painful but hearing protection should always be used if avoidance is not possible
Using Hearing Protection Devices
For instance, if you have a large yard and know you’ll be mowing for over 30 minutes at a time, use earplugs or a good noise-canceling headset when you mow.
Do regular woodworking where you use noisy power tools or volunteer at an animal shelter where you spend a lot of time in the dog kennel? Be sure to protect yourself from irreparable hearing loss.
Work in a data center? Average noise levels average between 92 and 96 dB.
As you can see from the table, it doesn’t take much to get beyond the 85 dB hearing loss threshold.
Mitigate your risk by properly equipping yourself with adequate hearing protection, whether in an industrial or home setting.
Your ears will thank you.
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