NIOSH releases new tools to help employers reduce occupational noise exposure [US]

On June 27, 2014 the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) revealed new online resources for its Buy Quiet program. The Buy Quiet program encourages companies to purchase or rent quieter machinery and tools to reduce noise exposures and prevent work-related noise-induced hearing loss. The Buy Quiet program also provides information on equipment noise levels to allow companies to make informed purchasing decisions and encourages manufacturers to design quieter equipment.

NIOSH’s Buy Quiet video and posters describe the harmful effects of excessive noise exposure and how buying quieter equipment can be cost-effective – reduce workers’ compensations and health care costs, increase productivity, reduce OSHA compliance costs, and increase employee awareness of safety issues.

To illustrate the difference that a reduction of a few decibels can make to employees, NIOSH has audio files of two saws with an 11 decibel difference. The saw that is 11 decibels quieter reduces employee exposure to noise energy by 90 percent.

To help employers choose quieter equipment, NIOSH developed the NIOSH Power Tools Database, a database including decibel levels for many commonly purchased power tools. Although not comprehensive, the database is a starting point for providing employers with the knowledge to begin purchasing quieter equipment.

NIOSH created a three-step process to enacting a voluntary Buy Quiet Process. First, communicate to your employees the benefits and importance of the Buy Quiet program. Second, develop policies to support your internal Buy Quiet initiative. Finally, using a cost-benefit analysis, research and purchase quieter tools and equipment.

As a reminder, NIOSH does not create any legal obligations and the Buy Quiet program is entirely voluntary.

Sources:

NIOSH Update: NIOSH Rolls-Out New Web Resources to Support Buy Quiet Programs, June 27, 2014

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-06-27-14.html

NIOSH Buy Quiet

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/buyquiet/

NIOSH Power Tools Database

http://wwwn.cdc.gov/niosh-sound-vibration/Default.aspx

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