Noise-induced hearing loss is a serious concern in many industries, especially in those where workers are frequently exposed to loud noises. In Ontario, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) outlines specific requirements for employers to protect their workers from noise-induced hearing loss. In this blog post, we will explore some of the key aspects of the OHSA as it relates to noise-induced hearing loss prevention and provide some practical tips for employers on how to comply with these requirements.
The OHSA and noise-induced hearing loss prevention
The OHSA is a provincial law that sets out the rights and duties of workers and employers in Ontario. It applies to all workplaces in the province, including those with high noise levels. The OHSA requires employers to take every reasonable precaution to protect workers from workplace hazards, including those that can cause noise-induced hearing loss. This means that employers must assess the risks of noise exposure in their workplace and implement appropriate control measures to protect workers from harm.
Noise exposure limits and monitoring
Under the OHSA, employers are required to monitor the noise levels in their workplace and ensure that they do not exceed the noise exposure limits set out in the regulations. These limits are based on the duration of exposure and the intensity of the noise. For example, the noise exposure limit for a worker exposed to continuous noise for an 8-hour workday is 85 decibels. If the noise levels in the workplace exceed these limits, employers must implement control measures to reduce the noise levels and protect workers from hearing loss.
Control measures for noise-induced hearing loss prevention
The OHSA requires employers to implement control measures to reduce the risks of noise-induced hearing loss in their workplace. These measures can include engineering controls, such as installing noise-reducing barriers or mufflers, or administrative controls, such as providing workers with hearing protection or implementing work practices to reduce noise exposure. Employers must also provide workers with training on how to use and maintain hearing protection devices, as well as how to recognize and report signs of hearing loss.
The role of the Joint Health and Safety Committee
The OHSA also requires employers to establish a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) if they have more than five workers. The JHSC plays a crucial role in noise-induced hearing loss prevention, as it is responsible for identifying and assessing noise hazards in the workplace, recommending control measures, and monitoring compliance with the OHSA. The JHSC should also be involved in the development and implementation of the workplace’s noise control program, as well as in the investigation of any incidents or complaints related to noise exposure.
Practical tips for employers
Here are some practical tips for employers on how to prevent noise-induced hearing loss in their workplace:
- Assess the risks of noise exposure in your workplace and identify the sources of noise.
- Implement control measures to reduce the noise levels, such as engineering controls or administrative controls.
- Provide workers with hearing protection and training on how to use it properly.
- Establish a Joint Health and Safety Committee if you have more than five workers.
- Monitor the noise levels in your workplace regularly to ensure that they do not exceed the noise exposure limits set out in the OHSA.
Noise-induced hearing loss is a serious concern for many workers in Ontario, and the OHSA requires employers to take every reasonable precaution to protect their workers from this hazard. By following the requirements of the OHSA and implementing effective control measures, employers can help prevent noise-induced hearing loss