Weekly Compliance Digest – Ontario Workplace Noise Regulation
Ontario Regulation 381/15: Noise
What is it?
In December 2015, Ontario passed a regulation to enhance worker protection from exposure to hazardous sound levels. Frequent exposure to excessive noise levels can lead to permanent hearing loss. The critical nature of this workplace safety hazard was recently highlighted by a NIOSH blog post. According to the post, more people have hearing loss in the U.S. than diabetes, cancer or vision problems. Occupational hearing loss, which is caused by exposure at work to loud noise or chemicals that damage hearing, is the most common work-related illness, NIOSH says.
Who is affected?
According to an OHS Insider article, the new regulation replaces the noise protection requirements contained in the regulations for:
- Industrial establishments
- Mines and mining plants
- Offshore oil and gas
The regulation also extends the noise protection requirements to all workplaces covered by the OHS Act. New workplaces covered by the noise protection requirements include:
- Construction projects
- Healthcare facilities
- Fire and police services
- Farming operations
- Amusement parks
What are the requirements?
The regulation includes the following provisions:
- Employers must make sure that workers are not exposed to a sound level greater than an equivalent sound exposure level of 85 decibels over an 8-hour shift.
- Employers must take all measures reasonably necessary in the circumstances to protect workers from exposure to hazardous sound levels. Protective measures should include the use of engineering controls, work practices and personal protective equipment (PPE), i.e. hearing protection devices.
- Where practicable, employers must post a clearly visible warning sign at every approach to an area in the workplace where the sound level regularly exceeds 85 decibels.
- Employers that provide workers with hearing protection devices must also provide adequate training and instructions to workers regarding the care and use of the devices, including their limitations, proper fitting, inspection and maintenance and, if applicable, the cleaning and disinfection of the devices.
What is next?
The new regulation will become effective on July 1, 2016.
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