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Workers exposed to excessive noise must use appropriate PPE including ear plugs, muffs, or both when engineering or administrative controls are not feasible to reduce exposure. Hearing protection is part of a hearing conservation program, which is required when noise exposure exceeds the action level [85 decibels on the A scale (dBA)].

Noise, or unwanted sound, is one of the most common health problems in American workplaces. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates that 30 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to hazardous noise.

Exposure to high levels of noise may cause hearing loss, create physical and psychological stress, reduce productivity, interfere with communication, and contribute to accidents and injuries by making it difficult to hear warning signals.

OSHA requires employers to determine if workers are exposed to excessive noise in the workplace. If so, the employers must implement feasible engineering or administrative controls to eliminate or reduce hazardous levels of noise. Where controls are not sufficient, employers must implement an effective hearing conservation program.


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