November 14, 2011
Nation's Building News

The Official Online Weekly Newspaper of NAHB

Safety Tip of the Month: Hearing Protection

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, noise-related hearing loss is one of the most prevalent occupational health issues in the U.S., with between 20,000 and 25,000 workers each year experiencing hearing loss because of high workplace noise levels.

Hearing protection must be provided and used when employees are exposed to noise levels at or above 90 dBA for an eight-hour time weighted average.

Employee protection may be required for high levels of noise exposure for shorter periods of time, as specified in Table D-2 in OSHA’s noise regulation. 

The most prevalent types of hearing protection on residential construction job sites are disposable ear plugs or reusable ear muffs.

It is important to select the appropriate hearing protection based on the level of noise that workers may be exposed to.

Employers may also choose to implement engineering or administrative controls to reduce workers’ exposure to harmful noise levels on the job site.

Examples of engineering controls include: substituting existing equipment with quieter alternatives, retro-fitting existing equipment and using mufflers or enclosures.

Examples of administrative controls include: implementing a controlled access zone to restrict access to areas or rotating workers performing noisy operations.

When performing certain job activities where the nature of the tools, equipment or method being used results in a continuously loud sound level — or where a loud acute (impact) sound exists — a combination of ear plugs and ear muffs may be used to achieve the appropriate level of hearing protection.

Common tasks on a residential construction site that may require hearing protection include: cutting bricks and blocks, using pneumatic nailers, using saws to cut material and operating heavy machinery.

For more information, view OSHA’s Occupational Noise Exposure website; or email Marcus Odorizzi at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8590.

Help Make Job Site Safety a Priority With Video From NAHB BuilderBooks

The “Jobsite Safety Video,” available through NAHB BuilderBooks, is the first-ever job site safety video for home builders.

The video provides an overview of the key safety issues that residential builders and workers need to focus on to reduce accidents and injuries.

Based on the NAHB-OSHA Jobsite Safety Handbook, this DVD is intended to be used as part of an essential residential construction safety-training program and includes two 20-minute videos on one DVD.

To view or purchase this DVD online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

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