No matter who you are, there’s always that one sound that makes your toes curl and your skin crawl. Whether it’s terracotta plant pots, nails on a chalkboard or children crying, there are a whole host of sounds out there that can only be described in one way: unbearable.
Is it just me, or can trying to decipher an OSHA regulation be confusing? Take, for instance, the OSHA Occupational Noise Exposure Standard (29 CFR 1910.95). The OSHA noise standard defines the action level to enroll an employee in a hearing conversation program as “an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels measured on the A-scale, slow response, or equivalently, a dose of 50 percent.” Because the action level is based on an exposure for an 8-hour work shift, a common point of confusion is what to do for work shifts that are not 8 hours, such as 10- or 12-hour work shifts. A common question we are asked is, “We work a 12-hour shift: Should I use 8 or 12 as the time duration on my noise dosimeter to calculate the time-weighted average?” Understanding how changing the time duration of a noise dosimeter sample affects the results, and how this relates to the noise standard, will help us make the best decision.