Workers Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island


Noise is a very serious and common hazard in many workplaces. If you are exposed to too much noise at work, even for a short period of time, you are at risk of occupational hearing loss. Noise damages nerves in the inner ears that cannot be repaired. The damage done is permanent.

How do I know if I am at Risk?

To determine if you are at risk of occupational hearing loss, please consider these factors:
  • Do you need to speak in a very loud voice to be understood? If so, you are being exposed to too much noise.
  • Do you experience a ringing noise at the end of your workday? If so, you are being exposed to too much noise.
  • Does music or speech sound muffled after work but fairly clear the next day? If so, you are being exposed to noise levels that can cause permanent damage.
Employers with workers exposed to hazardous noise levels are required to develop a prevention program to reduce or eliminate the risk of occupational hearing loss.

If the source of noise cannot be eliminated or controlled, hearing protection is the last line of defence. When noise levels are greater than 85 decibels (dbs), which is the noise level of welding machine, workers must wear hearing protection to prevent gradual hearing loss. In comparison, the average speaking voice is 50-70dbs.

Developing a Hearing Conservation Program

The proactive approach to preventing occupational hearing loss is developing a hearing conservation program. As part of your program, you will educate workers about noise hazards and how to control them. In addition, the program will provide details on how to properly use and maintain personal protective equipment and the importance of annual hearing tests for workers.

Here are steps to developing a hearing conservation program:
  • First, perform a hazard assessment to identify and measure noise hazards in the workplace.
  • Next, measure your workers’ noise exposure levels. The risk of occupational hearing loss depends on the noise level and duration of exposure.
  • Finally, eliminate or control the noise hazard. In the case where the noise hazard cannot be removed, you can replace noisy machinery with a quieter alternative.
Learn more about preventing occupational hearing loss and developing a hearing conservation program:

Guides: Fact Sheets: Printable Posters: If you would like to learn more about other health and safety matters in your workplace, please contact us or visit our resources webpage.