Hearing Conservation

Exposure to high levels of noise can cause permanent hearing loss. Surgery cannot help correct this type of hearing loss. Construction sites have many noisy operations and can be a significant source of noise exposure. Loud noise can also reduce work productivity and contribute to workplace accidents by making it difficult to hear warning signals.

Hearing loss from loud noise limits your ability to hear high frequencies, understand speech, and reduces your ability to communicate, which can lead to social isolation. Hearing loss can affect your quality of life by interfering with your ability to enjoy socializing with friends, playing with your children or grandchildren, or participating in other activities.

Damage to your hearing can be prevented, but once permanent noise-induced hearing loss occurs, it cannot be cured or reversed. Hearing loss usually occurs gradually, so you may not realise it is happening until it is too late.

Most manufacturers have set limits on noise-producing equipment (i.e., less than 85 dBA). When equipment exceeds these limits (i.e., > 85 dBA), personal noise measurement, engineering controls, posting of warning signs, and hearing protection options should be evaluated and implemented. The key is to identify equipment that is producing excess noise in the work area and implement controls to keep personal full shift noise levels below 85 dBA.

It is generally recommended in Australia to have workplace noise levels kept below 85 dBA as an 8-hour time-weighted average. For every 3 dB (decibels) above this level (meaning the noise has increased) it halves the exposure time, i.e. as the noise level increases, it damages your hearing more quickly in a shorter time frame (4 hours if the noise level is at 88 dBA).

When a sound level meter is not available, you should use the 1 metre rule: Stand about a meterís length away from your co-worker: If you have to raise your voice to be heard 1 metre away, you should assume that the sound level is at or above 85 dBA.

Below is a dBA noise measured chart showing noise exposure 1 meter away from the worker.

dBA Noise Chart

To minimize the risk of acquiring a hearing loss through industrial type noise; follow these simple guidelines:

  • 1. Wear hearing protection (e.g. proper noise attenuating headphones) in noisy workplaces
  • 2. Wear earplugs at concerts, music festivals and music clubs; there, noise level can be incredibly loud, comparable to that of a power mower
  • 3. Move away from the noise source
  • 4. Lower the volume of your iPod, or your hi-fi system and TV when listening with headphones

A good set of ear muffs such as in the Peltor Ear Muff Range - Class 1 to 5 (with 5 attenuating or reducing the most noise) from 3M are a good start (Attenuation for Australian / New Zealand Standards AS/NZS 1270:2002)

This range of hearing protections is available from Hip Pocket Work Wear (opposite Bunnings) Ioanthe Street South Grafton. Call 6643 4441 or email

Some examples of the Peltor Ear Muffs below, showing a pair of standard; to wear under a wide brim or hard hat use; and some for the kids.

Ear Muffs