Excessive noise damages sensitive structures in the inner ear that can’t be repaired, resulting in irreversible hearing loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent, but preventable
Noise-induced hearing loss typically occurs gradually as a result of prolonged exposure to noise levels greater than 85 dBA. This is the level at which people generally have to raise their voices to be heard when someone is about a metre away, or at arm’s length. Though less common, noise-induced hearing loss may also result from exposure to brief, intense sounds such as explosive blasts or gunfire. This is often referred to as acoustic trauma.
As an employer, you are required to implement a noise control and hearing conservation program if your workers are exposed to noise levels greater than 85 dBA over an eight-hour workshift, or 140 dBC peak sound level. Your program must include specific elements, such as noise measurement, hearing tests, hearing protection, and engineered noise controls.
You may need to combine controls to reduce noise exposure to safe levels. For example, an engineering control may help reduce the noise level, but workers may still need to wear hearing protection to bring noise exposure down to a safe level.
View and download the following resources to help you identify common hazards and implement a noise control and hearing conservation program.
Health and safety resources
Videos — Protect your hearing video series
- What Noise Does to Your Ears
Watch this video to find out what workplace noise does to your ears and what you can do to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
- Intensity and Duration of Noise
Watch this video to find out how the intensity and duration of workplace noise can damage your ears and what you can do to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
- How to Use Earplugs
Watch this video to find out how the proper use of earplugs at work can protect your ears and prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
Bulletins and info sheets
- Protecting workers from noise in the service industry
- Authorized Industrial Audiometric (Hearing Test) Facilities
- How to use foam earplugs
Booklets and guides
- Sound Advice: A Guide to Hearing Conservation Programs
- Testing Your Hearing: How and Why
- Hear for Good: Preventing Noise Exposure at Work