Properly selected hearing protection equipment should reduce noise to a level where the risk of hearing damage is reduced whilst at the same time allows the wearer to hear instructions or warnings in the workplace.
Decibels (dB) measure the intensity of a sound.
Some appropriate dB levels are shown below:
The target safe level is regarded as 80 dB(A) not to exceed 85 dB(A)
Hearing protection should be tested according to Australian Standard 1270 with performance results printed on the packaging, normally stated as SLC80 and or Class.
Workplace Noise Level
10 - 13
Less than 90 Decibels
14 - 17
90 to less than 95dB
18 - 21
95 to less than 100dB
22 - 25
100 to less than 105dB
105 to less than 110dB
For simplicity, if a worker is exposed to machinery noise of 97 dB(A) averagely over an 8 hour shift, then they would require a Class 3 level of protection or protection with a SLC80 rating between 18 and 21.
Signet carries a wide selection of hearing protection - from disposable ear plugs to active noise cancelling ear muffs, from the world's leading manufacturers.
A potential issue is that over-protection may result in workers regularly removing their protection to communicate. It is important to aim for 100% wear time as just a few minutes of unprotected exposure to noise everyday can accumulate and damage hearing.
A quick test you can do to assess the noise in your workplace is the 'one metre rule'. If you need to raise your voice to talk to someone about one metre away, you can assume the sound level is likely to be hazardous to hearing. Contact a professional Noise Audit or Survey company to test your work environment.
Hearing protection equipment shout NOT be used unless it conforms to relevant Australian Standards including testing to a relevant safety classification standard.
Not withstanding potential issues with over-protection, in some instances this may be a good solution to increase the earmuff decibel rating.
Safe Work Australia
Safe Work Australia
Australian Standard AS/NZS 1270:2002
This material has been prepared for basic informational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. This information does not take the place of professional advice or stat or national legal obligations as they relate to your specific business. It is strongly recommended that businesses do their own research and consult with relevant professional services or associations to ensure adherence to the workplace health and safety standards that apply to your business and industry.