What is an Occupational Exposure Limit for Noise?

The world of safety in Alberta is constantly evolving and changing. It seems like just yesterday there were protests and public outrage when new farming legislation came into law. And, with yearly reviews, exemptions and changes, there is always something new to discover within the industry.

However, even within the existing act, regulations and code, there is a fair amount to learn and understand. It is essential for both employers and employees to study and keep abreast of these changes, as they may affect work sites, policies, and procedures. Today, we will look at just one part of the Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Code, namely schedule 3.

What is Schedule 3 in OHS Code?

Like all schedules in the OHS Code, Schedule 3 is at the very back of the blue book. It refers to three tables that all relate to noise within the workplace. Below, we will focus on Table 1: Occupational exposure limits for noise. For reference sake, however, it is worth noting that Table 2 provides guidance on the selection of hearing protection devices, and Table 3 describes permissible background noise conditions during audiometric testing.

How to Interpret Schedule 3, Table 1

Interpreting the first table in this schedule is key to understanding the building blocks of your hearing conservation program. It simply contrasts the decibel exposure level (dBA) with the maximum allowable exposure duration. As an example, at 82 dBA a worker can face exposure for up to 16 hours without permanent hearing damage. This is considered the Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL) for that noise level.

However, this steeply drops off as at 85 dBA the OEL is reduced to half that amount or just 8 hours. Additionally, it is relevant to note the requirements for hearing protection and a hearing conservation program over the 85 dBA mark. Once the noise levels reach 115 dBA or greater, there is no amount of worker exposure allowed.


How to Find the Right Hearing Protection

Once you have tested your worksite and determined what level of noise is present, the next step will be protecting your workers. This may involve changing processes, replacing equipment, introducing new policies or updating personal protective equipment requirements.

For help understanding employer’s responsibility to workers, effective and fast testing or other relevant concerns, contact us today!

Rocky Mountain Mobile Hearing Testing is your locally owned and operated Calgary business. We are committed to providing mobile hearing testing services and other safety tests, to numerous industries and companies in Western Canada. Our services are part of the WorkSafeBC Provider Network, while our sound booths are approved by the CSA. We offer audiometry testing, mask fit testing, custom earplugs, noise measurements, help with implementing a hearing conservation program, and spirometry testing. If you want to improve your workplace, leave it in the hands of our team. Contact us today on (403) 399-4775.    

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