Preventing Hearing Loss at Your Workplace

Preventing Hearing Loss at Your Workplace

Industrial environments with high noise levels, like construction sites, can potentially damage workers’ hearing. Sound level meters that are used for acoustic measuring indicate noise levels in a workplace, and let workers know when it’s time to put on their PPE. According to OSHA, if noise level exceeds 85dB, they must put on personal hearing protection equipment to prevent hearing loss.

There are three important factors that can put you at risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL): how far are you located from the noise source, how loud is the noise, and how long the noise lasts. Many common sounds may not seem harmful, like traffic or a lawn mower, for example. However, extended exposure even to low or medium levels of noise is as dangerous as the short exposure to an impulse noise, such as gunshots or fireworks. You risk facing permanent hearing loss, especially is you are close to the source of the sound.

Various working environments dictate what noise level measuring device to use. High noise pollution is characteristic of construction sites, factories, manufacturing plants, military maintenance, mining, transportation, and oil and gas industry. These worksites require powerful instruments, like sound examiners, to be used to ensure the high precision level in measuring noise levels in order to determine if the workers have to wear PPE. In potentially low noise pollution environments like stores, offices, and small repair shops, a noise indicator is a good cost-saving option. This affordable device alerts you when the noise level gets above 85dB, giving you the opportunity to protect your hearing by putting on ear plugs, ear muffs, or both if needed for extra protection.

Types of Sound Measuring Devices

3M designs and manufactures reliable sound meters that are divided into three types of sound measuring devices:

  1. Noise indicator is a simple device, ideal for health and safety managers that allows them to monitor noise pollution;
  2. Sound meter with extremely accurate Type 1 microphone for use in research labs or on the field, or with less sensitive Type 2 microphone for general use;
  3. Intrinsic sound examiner for use in hazardous work environments where the danger of ignition of flammable materials is present, like oil and gas industry, mining, grain handling and processing, etc.

The most up-to-date models of sound meters - the 3M SoundPro SL/DL Series and the 3M Sound Examiner Series SE401/SE-402 - are compatible with detection management software that will help you analyze the collected data and build reports.

We also offer a durable outdoor measuring system (OMS) that allows you perform unattended sound level monitoring, as the weatherproof case can be padlocked.

Employers are required by OSHA to measure noise levels at their workplaces, provide free annual hearing exams, hearing protection, and training for their employees, as well as conduct evaluations of the adequacy of the existing hearing protectors in use.

To comply with OSHA standards, shop our top hearing protection brands like 3M, E-A-R, Howard Leight, Moldex, and Pyramex. Here are a few suggestions worth checking out:

  1. The BattlePlugs Dual Mode Impulse Earplugs are authorized for hearing protection of soldiers and civilians. These reusable and reliable earplugs have a high noise reduction rating (NRR) of 24 dB.
  2. For people working in low light hazardous conditions, the High Visibility Ear Muffs provide enhanced visibility, and great protection with their NRR30.
  3. If you are required to wear both a hard hat and ear muffs at your workplace, we suggest the L1H earmuffs (NRR23) that are compatible with a wide range of hard hats and include a pair of hard hat adapters. The ear cups snap in place during use and swing back when not in use.

In addition to using PPE, engineering controls (such as lubricating noisy equipment), and administrative controls (like limiting the amount of time workers spend close to the source of noise) must be used to reduce employees’ exposure to noisy environment.

For more information about what models of sound meters will work best for your specific application, please go to, or give us a call at 800-829-9580.


Feb 20th 2018 Mila Adamovica

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