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The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recently released a database of noise measurements performed in industries across the United States.  This data includes full-shift personal noise dosimetry as well as area sampling.

EHS professionals may use the NIOSH data to prioritize sampling plans across their organization for compliance with the OSHA Noise Standard and make informed decisions regarding the requirement for a Hearing Conservation Program (HCP).

The release of this database will allow employers to search for operations and equipment that may be similar to those found in their facility and have a better understanding of potential noise exposures and risk of noise induced hearing losses.  However, when reviewing this data, please proceed with caution!  There are numerous values, including instantaneous sound level measurements, Time Weighted Averages (TWAs), Action Levels (AL), equivalent continuous sound pressure level (Leq) and many more.   Employers seeking to evaluate compliance with the OSHA Occupational Noise Exposure (1910.95) should review data provided on full-shift TWAs.

EHS professionals may use the NIOSH data to prioritize sampling plans across their organization for compliance with the OSHA Noise Standard and make informed decisions regarding the requirement for a Hearing Conservation Program (HCP).

In 1981, OSHA implemented requirements for general industry to implement a Hearing Conservation Program (HCP) where workers are exposed to TWA of 85 dBA or higher over an 8 hour work shift. HCPs require employers to measure noise levels as well as provide free annual hearing exams and hearing protection.  Employers must also provide training and conduct evaluations on the adequacy of the hearing protectors in use unless changes to tools, equipment and schedules are made so that worker exposure to noise is less than the 85 dBA. A link to these tools from NIOSH can be found here.