Noise Safety

Noise Safety

Working in the roofing industry, noise is bound to be a problem.  From the hammering of nails, to the cutting of wood shakes, to even the bending and breaking of metal, damaging levels of noise are heard every day when you’re a roofer.  OSHA reports that every year 30 million people in the United States are occupationally exposed to hazardous noise.  Noise-related hearing loss has been listed as one of the most prevalent occupational health concerns in the United States for more than 25 years. This is a problem because exposure to high levels of noise can cause permanent hearing loss.

Loud noise is not only detrimental to your ears, but it can also induce psychological stress, barriers in communication, and may even cause workplace accidents due to its limiting of your ability to hear. You could be working on your roof, and not even hear a warning sign or someone yelling a warning.  Accidents happen so it’s very important to impose noise safety practices.

According to OSHA, noise may be a issue in your workplace if you hear ringing or humming in your ears when you leave work, you have to shout to be heard by a coworker an arm’s length away, or you experience temporary hearing loss when leaving work.  To prevent noise level problems OSHA has set standards for noise exposure in the work place.  Worker’s exposure to noise should be controlled below a level equivalent to 85 dBA for eight hours to minimize occupational noise induced hearing loss.

Noise controls are the primary defense against noise exposure. There are several types of noise controls that can be implemented.  The first is engineered controls.  These reduce sound exposure levels by modifying or replacing equipment, or making related physical changes at the noise source or along the transmission path to reduce the noise level at the worker’s ear, OSHA states. Some examples of engineering controls would be oil and lubricate the machinery, impose a barrier between the employee and the source of noise, or you could even simply choose to use low-noise machinery.

Another type of control that can be implemented is an administrative control.  Prevent noise damage by only using the noisy machines when less people are at risk to the exposure, minimize the amount of time workers spend near the noise source, and allow workers to find relief from the dangerous noise in a designated quiet area.

The final type of noise control that OSHA recommends is a hearing protection device, or HPD.  Hearing protection devices include earmuffs and ear plugs.  Many people don’t like HPDs, however if you have significant hearing loss or existent damage, an HPD is your best bet for protection.

Hearing damage and loss is a huge occupational risk that can easily be prevented.  Through noise controls and a proper hearing conservation program implemented by the employer, occupational hearing damage can become obsolete!

“Occupational Noise Exposure.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA. Web. 24 Aug. 2011.

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