Noise and How Much We Can Take
As we all can tell, today’s world is getting louder and louder all the time. We are exposed to a variety of sounds in a day, both wanted and unwanted. In the safety community we usually consider noise to be “unwanted” sound. Depending on your work environment, you may already have some training on the noise levels you can be exposed to without causing harm.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set guidelines for the exposures we can be in for a working environment. These exposure levels are set to prevent workers from having permanent hearing loss. Along with this, there are guidelines for measuring the sound (in decibels; dB), what type of personal protective equipment we should use, and how to record how the noise is affecting your hearing. At 90 dB you start to reach a level that can impact your hearing negatively if exposed to it for too long. This is all great information, but can you tell what the noise level (dB) is around you? The answer is probably No.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has done some of the research for us. Normal conversation between people is around 60dB. Lawnmowers are a surprising 90dB in normal working conditions. For those of you out there that use hand tools, did you know that a power drill can be around 98dB? Now for the big stuff, a bulldozer has a decibel reading over 100. It is always better to be safe than sorry, if your not sure of the decibel levels you are exposed to it may sound advise to check it out.
If you would like to see the decibel levels of more equipment, they can be referenced on the NIOSH website.