It may go without saying that construction sites are loud places, but it may be long overdue for hearing safety standards in these venues. A pair of recent studies, one by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and another by the U.S. Department of Energy, measured the effect of occupational hearing loss and found that a large number of construction workers had lost a great deal of hearing over the course of their careers.
Currently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has an exposure limit of 90 weighted decibels over an eight hour period for construction workers. However, based on the NIOSH findings, a standard of 85 weighted decibels is now recommended.
The recommended standard will offer an added level of protection that workers in other industries take advantage of. For instance, factory workers have stiffer rules when it comes to noise levels, as it has been well settled that these workers run the risk of hearing loss when consistently exposed to decibel levels above 90.
The difference between 85 and 90 decibels may not seem like much; especially considering what people are exposed to in loud football stadiums or basketball arenas. But keep in mind that these venues are only so loud for minutes at a time. Imagine enduring a few hours of high level noise during one’s shift.
While a change in federal rules may be a long way off, employers still have a duty to protect workers by providing hearing protection devices. If you are suffering from hearing loss due to noise exposure, a workers’ compensation attorney can advise you on your right to be compensated.