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Archive for July, 2016

What is 85 dB and How do I Measure it?  

What this means to farmers

 A decibel is essentially a unit of measurement for sound.  It is a measure of power or intensity of a specific sound. Decibels work in a logarithmic function. For example, 85 decibels is two times louder than 83 decibels, thus for every 3 decibels increased above 85 the sound power doubles and the recommended exposure period is reduced by half.

This new regulation states that employers are required to ensure that employees are not exposed to sound levels equivalent to or greater than 85 dBA, Lex,8. In other words, farmers and other employers shall ensure employees are not exposed to 85 decibels of sound for duration of approximately eight hours.  This is due to the possibility of hearing damage occurring.

There are different methods to measure decibels in a work environment. They include:

  • Computer program and equipment: Easy to operate and cost effective. Not very mobile.
  • Mobile app: Easy and quick to use. Convenient to acquire.
  • Decibel meter: Most accurate, but at least $200.

 

Examples of Decibel Levels (Approximately)

  • Garbage Disposal 80 dBA
  • Milling machine 85 dBA
  • City traffic, inside the car 85 dBA

Common Farm Situations

  • Average tractor sitting idle 85 dBA
  • Tractor (under full load) 120 dBA
  • Chain saw (operating) 94-116 dBA
  • Orchard Sprayer 85-100 dBA

While operating a tractor for an extensive amount of time, farmers would be required to supply their employees with adequate hearing protection. Farmers should also consider other common activities that occur on a day to day basis, such as machine work, using tools, and even live-stock birth.  For example, a handsaw produces on average 85 decibels and an electric drill produces on average 95 decibels.

 

Safety Procedures

Farmers need to determine which tasks involve sound levels equivalent to 85 decibels or above, with exposure time of approximately eight hours or more. This can be determined by using any of the three instruments listed above. If the decibel rating is over 85 dBA and employees will be exposed to this level of sound for eight hours or longer, the famer shall change the work environment so the exposure is under a hazardous level or supply adequate hearing protection.

Once these jobs are discovered, farmers can take measures to protect their employees hearing. In situations where hearing protection devices are appropriate farmers might consider: ear muffs, ear plugs and canal caps. Hearing protection devices are given an NRR or noise reduction rating. This rating uses a simply subtraction method where if a set of ear plugs is given a 30 dBA NRR, and workers are exposed to 85 dBA, then the ear protection reduces the noise to 55 dBA.

Training and instructing employees on the proper fitting, inspection and maintenance and, if applicable, the cleaning and disinfection of hearing protection devices is another responsibility employers will be required to undertake. Additionally, employers will be required to provide visible signage warning of areas where the sound level regularly exceeds 85 dBA.

 

http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r15381

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