Noise at Work

Loud noise at work can lead to hearing loss. There are safety rules that you should follow to protect your hearing. Audiologists can help.

Millions of people work in jobs that are loud and may cause hearing loss. You may be one of them if you are one of the following types of workers:

  • Firefighter or other first responder
  • Member of the military
  • Subway worker
  • Construction worker
  • Musician
  • Factory worker
  • Mine worker

Noises above 85 dB can cause hearing loss over time. Noise can make it harder to do your job. It can make you more tired and make you tense and angry.

There is a noise standard for music and other audio listened to on personal listening devices. The World Health Organization and International Telecommunication Union 2019 document,  WHO-ITU Global Standard on Safe Listening Devices and Systems [PDF], recommends that manufacturers equip devices like smartphones and personal audio players with information that explains safe listening (for adults, a total of 40 hours of weekly exposure to volume levels no higher than 80 dB is recommended; for children, the level is 75 dB).

Federal Regulations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is a federal agency that sets workplace safety rules. These rules include hearing protection and conservation. OSHA requires a five-phase program to protect hearing. These phases are as follows:

  1. Noise Monitoring: Programs must measure sound levels and decide what protection workers need.
  2. Hearing Testing: All employees in the program must have a hearing test every year.
  3. Employee Training and Education: All employees must get hearing protection training every year.
  4. Hearing Protectors: All employees must get the hearing protection they need for their job.
  5. Recordkeeping: Companies must keep records about sound levels, hearing tests, training, and more.

Other Resources

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, has a Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention webpage. NIOSH is a federal research agency that works to prevent work-related hearing loss.

To find an audiologist near you, visit ProFind.

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