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Permissible noise exposure limits frequently dismissed at NYC construction sites

From an outsider's perspective, the average New York City construction site can appear incredibly chaotic. Most construction sites are filled with workers who are operating heavy equipment, working atop scaffolding and using tools like jackhammers and saws. Adding to the apparent chaos, construction sites are also often incredibly loud and filled with sounds of rumbling, banging, clanging, beeping and crashing.

On any construction site, regular communication is vital to ensure for the safety of workers. The results of a recent study indicate that some construction workers may, however, not be able to hear important instructions or warnings as they are routinely exposed to noise levels that exceed permissible exposure limits.

Data recently presented at a construction industry conference revealed that between 50 to 70 percent of construction workers may be at risk of suffering hearing loss due to routine and prolonged exposure to excessive noise levels. Additionally, research also indicates that workers who are exposed to elevated noise levels are also at an increased risk of suffering other adverse health problems including high blood pressure, increased heart rate, sleep disturbances, fatigue and muscle tension.

Construction workers who suffer hearing loss and/or develop other negative health issues due to exposure to excessive noise levels are more likely to cause or be involved in accidents that may result in serious or fatal injuries. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health have both established permissible noise limits, it's challenging to enforce these limits and many employers fail to protect workers from suffering hearing loss or other noise-related health problems.


Source: EHS Today, "Safety 2015 – Hearing Conservation in Construction: Listening to New Perspectives on an Old Problem," Sandy Smith, June 8, 2015

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