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Hearing Conservation – dBA Exposure Limits

Cal/OSHA requires hearing conservation measures when noise levels reach 85 dBA over 8 hours; 85 dBA is approximately the level of noise created by a lawn mower.

…from Safety Sanity’s ‘Hearing Conservation Safety Program’ (California):
“If exposures between 85 dBA and 90 dBA on an 8-hour time weighted average have been recorded, this requires the development of a hearing conservation program and the voluntary use of hearing protections devices.
If exposures in excess of 90 dBA on an 8-hour time weighted average have been recorded, mandatory use of hearing protection is required. Feasible engineering and administrative controls and a hearing conservation program shall be implemented. Impulse or impact noise levels over 140 dBA also dictate the preceding requirements as well.”

The following examples are estimates only, useful for general benchmarking and comparison purposes:

threshold of hearing 0
Whisper 30
Normal Conversation 50-65
Average Office 55-60
Lawn Mower at 10m 60
Laughter 60-65
Department Store 65
Hair Dryer at 1m 70
Chainsaw at 10m 85
Lawn Mower 85-90
Arc Welder, Food Blender 90
Hand Circular Saw at 1m 95
Farm Tractor 98
Jackhammer at 10m 100
Tablesaw 105
Chainsaw 110
Siren 115
Whistle at 1m 120
Oxygen Torch 120
Stadium Crowd (peak) 130
Aircraft Carrier Deck 140
Jet Takeoff at 25m 150
eardrum rupture 150
sound waves become shock waves 194

Learn More:

Noise – Basic Information, from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/phys_agents/noise_basic.html

Cal/OSHA’s Exposure Limits for Noise: http://www.dir.ca.gov/Title8/5096.html

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