Should Government Control Workplace noise levels?
Many people do not even consider the risk of dangerous noise levels that they can be exposed to while at work. “Workers in the following industries are more likely to […]
Many people do not even consider the risk of dangerous noise levels that they can be exposed to while at work. “Workers in the following industries are more likely to be exposed to dangerous noise levels: agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing and utilities, transportation, and military.”
Currently, noise levels in the work place have become a hot bottom topic. Where does the responsibility lie in regards to controlling noise level for employees? Should a company be required to monitor the noise levels or is providing adequate ear protection adequate? These very questions have spurred some legal debate with the US Labor Department.
Earlier this year Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revised their previous stance on what is appropriate pre-cautions for companies to take in order to insure their employees have safe noise levels in the work place. However, OSHA withdrew their new interpretation of the standard in January of 2011 after pressure from several Senators. The change “[…] would have clarified the term ‘feasible administrative or engineering controls’ as used in OSHA’s noise standard.” When OSHA announced that they were withdrawing the new clarification they made it clear that noise levels in the workplace if still a large issue that affect countless people in the workplace and will continue to research and investigate the best way to proceed with the issue.
This debate not only affects the quality of workspace for the employees but it also affect a company’s bottom line financially. There is a large cost difference between making companies overall responsible to controlling the environment noise level and just implementing safety regulations that control individual noise exposure, such as earplugs or earmuffs. The cost difference between these two approaches is large, as the individual earplugs or earmuffs are far more cost effective for large companies.
There can be pros and cons for both methods of hearing protection. First of all, for the companies, an overall sound/noise control for an entire facility can be extremely costly. However, many workers complain that wearing earplugs or earmuffs, that are more cost effective, hinder communication between co-workers. An overall facility upgrade can reduce accidents by improving communication, can limit the possibility of OSHA fines and can overall increase the productivity and moral of the workplace.
US Department of Labor’s OSHA withdraws proposed interpretation on occupational noise. Agency examines other approaches to prevent work-related hearing loss. January 19, 2011, http://www. Osha.gov
Did you know that many businesses are currently in violation of OSHA’s noise regulations? Did you also know that acoustics is an essential element to OSHA compliance? OHSANoise.com 2003.
Copithorne, David. How Much Government Regulation Should There be of Noise and Hearing Loss in the Workplace? January 20, 2011.. http://hearingmojo.com/how-much-government-regulation-should-there-be-of-noise-and-hearing-loss-in-the-workplace