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Noise in the construction industry and its effect on hearing.

Hearing Instrum 1990 Oct; 41(12):18/21
The construction industry has been covered by its own noise standard (29 CFR 1926.52) for as long as the manufacturing industries have been covered by their standard (29 CFR 1910.95). The construction noise standard, however, does not have the additional requirements that were incorporated into paragraphs c through 0 of the Hearing C0nservation Amendment for the manufacturing industries in 1983. Thus, the construction noise standard does not provide for periodic noise monitoring, dosimetry, periodic audiometric testing or worker education. Instead, the construction noise standard simply requires that all workers exposed to time-weighted average levels (TWA) of greater than 90 dBA (sound level meter, slow response) for eight hours must be provided protection against excessive noise dose. The standard relies upon a 5 dB exchange rate. For example, as shown in Table 1, a worker exposed to noise for more than 30 minutes must also be provided protection from the noise. The construction noise standard provides an equation to calculate the "noise exposure factor," that is the equivalent of dosage. The equation is used when the worker is exposed to many levels of noise for differing amounts of time. Lastly, the standard states that exposure to impulsive or impact noise should not exceed 140 dB peak sound pressure level. How many construction workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels? According to the National Occupational Exposure Survey (NOES), 507,049 construction workers were exposed to noise levels in excess of 85 dBA. This is 13% of the production workers in all phases of construction, as listed in Table 2. NOES2 also reports the availability of routine audiometric testing to the workers in the construction industry. The values are shown in Table 3. The special trades groups, while comprising a large proportion of all construction workers, are mostly individual craftsmen working alone or in small companies of less than 100 employees. Thus, it is not surprising that only 2.7% of the special trades companies provide routine audiometric tests. Approximately 2.6% of the general building contractors and 7.9% of the heavy construction companies provide routine audiometric tests to their employees.
Audiometry; Testing-equipment; Hearing-threshold; Noise-levels; Hearing-protection; Hearing-level; Hearing-loss; Hearing-tests; Hearing-impairment; Hearing-disorders; Hearing-conservation; Construction-industry; Construction; Construction-workers
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Hearing Instruments
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division