Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. Each year approximately 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to noise loud enough to damage their hearing. To create a more healthful workplace, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends preventing hazardous noise through controls for noise exposure and encourages business owners to create Buy Quiet programs as a first step.
What is Buy Quiet?
Buy Quiet is a prevention initiative which:
- Encourages companies to purchase or rent quieter machinery and tools to reduce worker noise exposure. This is accomplished when new businesses start up or when older equipment is replaced.
- Provides information on equipment noise levels, so companies can buy quieter products that make the workplace safer.
- Encourages manufacturers to design quieter equipment by creating a demand for quieter products.
Why Buy Quiet?
Noise-induced hearing loss can't be reversed, but it is 100% preventable. NIOSH recommends that workers should not be exposed to noise at a level that amounts to more than 85 decibels (dBA) for 8 hours. Buy Quiet can help you stay below the recommended exposure level for noise.
Play the audio files and compare two same sized yet different circular saws cutting a 1 inch thick piece of oak board. Can you hear the difference?
There is a difference of more than 10 dBA between the two saws completing the same task. This difference equates to a greater than 90% reduction in noise energy, resulting in fewer hearing loss injuries. * Buying quiet makes a difference.
Benefits of Buy Quiet
- Reducing the risk of hearing loss.
- Reducing the long-term costs of audiometric testing, personal protective equipment, and workers compensation. Conservative estimates provide $100 per dBA of savings when purchasing the quieter product.1 This savings is applicable across a wide variety of machinery and equipment.
- Helping companies comply with OSHA and other noise regulation requirements.
- Reducing the impact of noise on the community.
Notes and References
* Saw 2 is more than 10 decibels quieter than Saw 1. Even though the noise energy is reduced by more than 90%, the noise exposure still exceeds the NIOSH recommended level of 85 dBA and hearing protection should be worn while operating the saw. Buying the quieter tool significantly reduces the risk of hearing loss, but does not eliminate the hazard completely.
1 Nelson D . Adaptation of NASA buy-quiet process roadmap for construction firms. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 212-2011-M-38379, 2011 Apr; :1-21.
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