Personal protective equipment (PPE) is an essential safety component of a worker’s tasks when they could become injured as a result of an exposure to a physical, chemical, electrical or biological hazard. PPE is designed to protect the worker from potential harm and is required by workplace legislation in addition to other control measures.
Every employer must take all steps to protect workers from exposure to hazardous sound levels. Protective measures include providing and using engineering controls, work practices, and when other methods cannot control the hazard, hearing protecting devices.
PPE, including hearing protection, is the last means of protection by ensuring:
Employers must provide training and instruction to the worker in the care and use of the device, including its limitations, proper fitting, inspection, maintenance and cleaning and disinfection of the device when that is necessary.
There is a large variety of hearing protection devices. When selecting a hearing protection device to use, factors that must be considered are:
Hearing protection devices are to be used and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
O. Reg. 381/15
Section 2 Duty to protect workers
2. (1) Every employer shall take all measures reasonably necessary in the circumstances to protect workers from exposure to hazardous sound levels.
(2) The protective measures shall include the provision and use of engineering controls, work practices and, subject to subsection (5), hearing protection devices.
(3) Any measurement of sound levels in the workplace that is done in order to determine what protective measures are appropriate shall be done without regard to the use of hearing protection devices.
(4) Without limiting the generality of subsections (1) and (2), every employer shall ensure that no worker is exposed to a sound level greater than an equivalent sound exposure level of 85 dBA, Lex,8.
(5) Except in the circumstances set out in subsection (6), the employer shall protect workers from exposure to a sound level greater than the limit described in subsection (4) without requiring them to use and wear hearing protection devices.
(6) Workers shall wear and use hearing protection devices appropriate in the circumstances to protect them from exposure to a sound level greater than the limit described in subsection (4) if engineering controls are required by subsections (1) and (2) and,
(a) are not in existence or are not obtainable;
(b) are not reasonable or not practical to adopt, install or provide because of the duration or frequency of the exposures or because of the nature of the process, operation or work;
(c) are rendered ineffective because of a temporary breakdown of such controls; or
(d) are ineffective to prevent, control or limit exposure because of an emergency.
(7) Where practicable, a clearly visible warning sign shall be posted at every approach to an area in the workplace where the sound level, measured as described in subsection (3), regularly exceeds 85 dBA.
Section 3 Training and instruction
3. An employer who provides a worker with a hearing protection device shall also provide adequate training and instruction to the worker in the care and use of the device, including its limitations, proper fitting, inspection and maintenance and, if applicable, the cleaning and disinfection of the device.
Section 4 Hearing protection devices
4. (1) A hearing protection device shall be selected having regard to,
(a) sound levels to which a worker is exposed;
(b) the attenuation provided by the device; and
(c) the manufacturer’s information about the use and limitations of the device.
(2) A hearing protection device shall be used and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.