Noise-induced hearing loss
It often happens so
gradually that you may not realize it. Excessive noise damages tiny
sensory cells deep inside the ear. At first, you can’t clearly hear
conversations in noisy workplaces, restaurants or sporting events,
where there is background noise.
Noise can also cause your ears to ring. Or you may notice sounds
seem muffled at the end of a day’s work.
Over time, you lose your ability to hear high-pitched sounds,
like birds chirping, an alarm clock beeping or a warning signal at
work. Eventually, you become isolated from the people and
environments around you.
Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent, but it’s also
In 2016, it was a $15.4 million problem in New Brunswick. Since
2007, WorkSafeNB has provided
hearing aids and related services to more than 8,000 injured
workers. That number is expected to grow even faster as New
Brunswick’s population grows older.
Don’t be among those who end up with hearing loss. Don’t become
isolated in a world of silence. Protect your ears at work and
► Who is at risk?
Studies have shown that daily exposure to noise levels in excess
of 85 dBA over eight hours can cause damage to the ear. The higher
the noise level, the shorter the exposure time required before
damage to the ear can occur. For example, working only five minutes
with a chain saw without hearing protection can damage your
► What can I do to reduce my
Exposure to noise adds up. You need to consider all the noise
you are exposed to on a given day. For example, if you spent 10
minutes at work using a table saw at 100 dBA without hearing
protection and then listened to your personal stereo system for one
hour that night at 93 dBA, your total exposure crosses into the
A number of everyday activities can cause exposure to sound levels
above 85 dBA. Here are a few examples:
- Listening to music through headphones or earbuds (60 to 120
- Attending a rock music concert (125 dBA)
- Mowing the lawn (95 dBA)
- Roar of a crowd at a sporting event (95-100 dBA average)
- Driving a motorcycle (80-115 dBA)
- Using a food blender (88 dBA)
- Using a vacuum cleaner (88 dBA)
► How can I tell if my workplace
is too loud?
If you answer yes to any of the following questions, your
workplace may have a noise problem.
- Do you have to raise your voice to be heard at work?
- Do you have ringing in their ears at the end of a shift?
- Do you have to turn down the volume of your car radio on the
drive to work in the morning? Do you turn it up on the drive
- Do you turn the TV volume up so high it disturbs family
- Do you have problems understanding conversations at parties, or
restaurants, or in crowds where there are many voices and competing
► What can I do to reduce noise
exposure in my workplace?
- Notify your employer or supervisor when you encounter hazardous
noise and when equipment or tools need maintenance.
- Shut off machinery when it’s not in use.
- Use hearing protection properly; even for short duration tasks.
Not using or removing a hearing protector even for just three
seconds out of a five-minute task can reduce the amount you are
protected by 33%.
- Look out for your co-workers. Remind them to use hearing
- Participate in the employer’s hearing conservation program,
including periodic hearing tests and training programs on noise
- Participate in developing and implementing noise control
strategies at your workplace.
► What can employers do to reduce
noise exposure in the workplace?
- Make hearing conservation a component of their health and
- Plan on how to control noise on site before a project
- Train workers on the health hazards of noise and how to use
- Purchase or rent quiet equipment and tools, and use noise
- Implement a “buy quiet” purchasing policy to replace equipment
and tools over the long term.
- Inspect and maintain tools and equipment.
- Prevent surfaces from vibrating excessively.
- Enclose noisy equipment to prevent the noise from reaching
- Isolate employees in sound reduction booths when noise sources
cannot be controlled.
- Post signs around noisy areas.
- Schedule noisy activities for when the fewest number of workers
are on site.
- Provide various types of hearing protection. It’s more likely
that workers will wear hearing protection if it fits
- Enforce the use of hearing protection, especially for
short-duration/high noise level tasks.
- Provide hearing tests at least every two years (more frequently
if required) for workers exposed to noise levels greater than 85
- Comply with Sections 29-33 and 48 of the Regulation 91-191 of
New Brunswick Occupational Health and Safety Act which
sets out the minimum requirements for protecting workers against
noise. These sections set the limits for noise exposure and the
elements of a noise control and hearing conservation program that
must be provided to all workers whose noise exposure exceeds those
- If there is a noise problem in a workplace, then a noise
assessment or survey using CSA
Z107.56 - Procedures for the Measurement of Occupational Noise
Exposure should be undertaken to determine the sources of
noise, the amount of noise, who is exposed and for how long.
If you are having a hearing problem, and suspect it could be due
to noise exposure at work, consider making an appointment with one
of our approved hearing services providers and completing a Form 67 – Report of accident or
occupational disease. Submitting the Form 67 to
WorkSafeNB will start the claims
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