Recent amendments to PEI's Occupational Health and Safety Act General Regulations, now require specific employer precautions to protect the hearing of workers in every workplace in PEI.
Charlottetown (5 December 2007) - Employers whose workers may be exposed to occupational noise now must take greater precautions.
- Perform annual hearing tests for workers
- Hold educational sessions for workers
- Implement engineered noise control options
- Post signs warning of hazardous noise areas
- Incorporate a hearing protection program into the workplace's overall health and safety program
This type of detail added to the act will ultimately guide employers in best practices and help protect employees. Exposure limits remain the same, where a worker's noise exposure should not exceed 85 decibels (dBA) over an eight-hour period; 82 dBA over a 16-hour period; and 80 dBA over a 24-hour period. At 106 dBA an worker should only be exposed for only 3.75 minutes.
Currently, all provinces and territories match these 8 hour standards, with the exception of Quebec and Manitoba. These two exceptions have a 90 dBA maximum permitted exposure level of 8 hours.
Furthermore, an employer is required to repeat noise measurements after a change in equipment that may affect the noise level or duration of exposure level. Some examples of decibel levels include; a quiet office with an air conditioner is about 50 dBA, normal conversation is about 60 dBA, but traffic noise starts to peak around 80 dBA, and the legislated maximum for 8 hours may sound like and electric razor and many industrial workplaces.
Employers have until October 2008 to make plans and incorporate new policy and procedures into their Health and Saftey programs. Meanwhile, employers are getting a wake-up call for how noise-induced hearing loss is a serious workplace injury that can be avoided.