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OSHA ear protection: Safety standards for hearing protection

You’re in a noisy environment and need to wear ear protection?

If you work in noisy environments, you need to wear ear protection. It’s important to wear the right type and amount of protection to reduce the risk of hearing loss.

You want to be able to hear, but you don’t want to lose your hearing. That’s why you need to wear hearing protection when working in loud environments.

Keep reading to learn more about the best ways to protect your ears.

OSHA ear protection is required for noise levels exceeding 85 dB. OSHA states that if you are exposed to sounds at or above 85 dB for an eight-hour shift, your hearing can be impaired.

If you’re exposed to excessive noise, wearing the right type of hearing protection can help reduce the risk of permanent hearing loss. Your ears have a finite number of nerve fibers that can be damaged by sound waves and without proper protection, it’s difficult to hear even moderate sounds over time. By wearing the appropriate type and amount of ear protection, you can safeguard your ears and still be able to hear what’s going on around you.

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Do you have the right to participate in an OSHA?

OSHA regulations require that employers give their employees the opportunity to take part in an OSHA. This means that the employer must inform and educate employees about hearing loss due to noise exposure and establish a procedure for workers to report that they might experience hearing loss from noise exposure.

The employer must then evaluate the reported concerns, perform audiometric testing, and provide follow-up counseling if necessary. Employers are required to review audiometric test results with workers in a written explanation, giving the results of each test any recommended corrective measures and information on how hearing loss may affect job performance over time. This information must also be included in the employee’s personnel file or in an equivalent file.

Do all employers have to comply with OSHA?

OSHA regulations cover all employers in all industries that have employees who are exposed to hazardous equipment or environments. Yes, employers must follow OSHA standards and guidelines.

OSHA’s regulations require employers to provide their employees with hearing protection at the minimum level of protection required by OSHA and in accordance with the employer’s noise exposure assessment. Failure to provide workplace hearing protection as required by OSHA may lead to a penalty.

What companies are exempt from OSHA?

OSHA exempt industries include:

  • Federal government agencies. State and local government agencies (e.g., police, fire, etc.)

  • Farms with immediate family members working on the farm

  • Public utilities as defined by the Federal Power Act and related regulations, including electricity, telephone, and water utilities, gas utilities engaged in interstate gas transmission activities; pipeline systems transporting products other than oil or natural gas or engaged in refined petroleum product retail sales to the ultimate consumer by pipeline; and steam generating companies that generate electricity for sale primarily to the electric power industry. (This does not include any federal agency that regulates these industries).

Is OSHA required by law?

OSHA is a part of the United States Department of Labor. It was created in 1971 and handles workplace safety.

There are many myths about OSHA, one of which is that it is required by law. OSHA is not a law, but it is a requirement of most businesses. OSHA sets standards for workplace safety, and those who do not follow them can be fined.

What is OSHA standard?

OSHA is a set of safety standards that are set in place to protect employees while they are on the job. The standards cover a variety of topics, from blood-borne pathogens to slips, trips, and falls.

Employers are responsible for ensuring their workers are compliant with OSHA regulations, and workers may report any safety violations they encounter.

The OSHA standard for ears is called the Noise Standard. This standard establishes the noise levels that are deemed as hazardous to hearing and is measured in decibels (dB). The standard establishes a maximum allowable noise level of 85 dB and mandates that workers are provided hearing protection to counter its effects.

What rights do employers have?

Employers are required to provide hearing protection for their employees if the noise level exceeds 85 dB. Employers must also provide their workers with the information they need to effectively use the hearing protection. The employer must also ensure that any hearing protection provided is in good working condition and can function properly, and also be re-evaluated at least every six months.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) allows workers and their representatives to view the information that employers collect on hazardous conditions. Hazards present at work should be disclosed to workers so that they can protect themselves.

It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure employees are properly outfitted with hearing protection if their jobs expose them to hazardous levels of noise. OSHA sets the standard at 85 dB, and any employee exposed to noise that exceeds 85 dB must wear hearing protection. If a worker already has impaired hearing, they should not be exposed to hazardous noise levels exceeding 90 dB. OSHA sets standards for workers that are exposed to loud noises on a sustained basis, such as machinery operators, machinists and woodworkers.

How often are hearing test required by OSHA?

Hearing tests are required by OSHA to be conducted annually for employees who are exposed to 85 decibels or more in an 8-hour time period.

OSHA also recommends that workers be screened for hearing loss if they are exposed to any level of noise, whether it is 85 decibels or not. A hearing test can help determine whether an employee has suffered any hearing loss because of working in a noisy environment.

What are the 4 responsibilities of OSHA?

OSHA’s remit is setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education and compliance assistance. These four responsibilities help provide employees with protection against hazards in the workplace.

OSHA provides training for employers and workers to prevent accidents and injuries that occur in workplaces. It is the employer’s responsibility to train workers in safe work practices and inform them of dangers. OSHA training helps educate employers, workers and other individuals on how to prevent workplace injuries.

OSHA also provides outreach, education and compliance assistance that helps educate employers, workers and other individuals about OSHA requirements. The assistance can help ensure that workplaces are kept safe for employees. OSHA provides compliance help for small businesses and large companies so they can meet the requirements under this law.

Can my employer require me to wear hearing protection?

The answer to this question is yes, your employer can require you to wear hearing protection. In fact, it is the law in some states for employers to provide hearing protection for their employees. However, your employer cannot require you to wear a specific type of hearing protection. There are many types of hearing protection available, so your employer should provide you with a variety of options to choose from.

Covering one’s ears is not a guarantee that hearing loss will not occur. However, providing hearing protection can reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

Hearing protection includes earplugs or earmuffs. These devices are designed to reduce the amount of sound that reaches the eardrum by creating a physical barrier to certain frequencies. Earmuffs are made from a small cap with thick padding and headbands; they work by creating a seal around the outer ear that blocks certain frequencies. Earmuffs should be fitted properly, so they seal off all surrounding sounds, including voices, in order to protect against loud noises and dangerous levels of sound exposure.

Can OSHA shut a business down?

No, OSHA cannot shut a business down. OSHA only enforces the federal workplace safety standards.

In the event that a business is violating these standards, OSHA can issue citations to employers who are found in violation of these regulations. To shut a business down, only a court order can do that.

For more information about the OSHA standards for hearing protection, visit their website at OSHA Site


Hearing protection is a very important aspect for all workers. According to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2015, hearing loss was the most common body part to suffer from occupational injury and illness.

Workers who are exposed to loud sounds and noises are at risk of suffering hearing loss from prolonged use of ear protection, resulting from noise-induced hearing loss. The risk for noise-induced hearing loss is higher for heavy truck drivers and airline pilots, since these workers experience their work noise for longer hours than other occupations.

Protecting your ears has been shown to reduce the incidence of medical issues caused by hazardous sounds or noises in the workplace.


Please Note: Just because an ear defender is marked, for example, "Gunshot" - it will still cover other things, like "explosions"

29 CFR 1910 OSHA General Industry Regulations & Standards January 2021 Edition
  • OSHA (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 01/01/2021 (Publication Date) - Mancomm (Publisher)
Rapid Care First Aid 80094 3 Shelf ANSI/OSHA Compliant All Purpose First Aid Cabinet, Wall Mountable
  • 4 shelf metal cabinet first aid cabinet. Ideal for job site, home or office
  • Fully compliant with ANSI Z308.1-2003 standards and meets or exceeds Federal OSHA Regulations (may vary by region)
  • White moisture resistant steel case. This cabinet measures 5.75 x 14.0 x 17.0 inches
  • First Aid Booklet offers help and guidance in emergency situations
OSHA Compliance for General Industry Manual: Understanding to Implementation
  • OSHA manual covers key workplace safety topics including: aerial lifts, bloodborne pathogens, chemicals & hazardous substances, electrical, emergency planning/response, hand/power tools, hazard communication, lockout/tagout, machine guarding, overhead cranes, permit-required confined spaces, personal protective equipment (ppe), powered industrial trucks, walking-working surfaces, and welding/cutting.
  • OSHA general industry regulations manual includes helpful extras like FAQs based on real-world questions, customizable safety plans and forms, and compliance checklists.
  • Offers ezExplanations summaries of workplace safety regulations and answers to OSHA regulations and compliance questions. Includes a "how to get started with OSHA compliance" section, so you'll never be at a loss for where to begin your OSHA safety and compliance efforts.
  • Loose-leaf, 3-ring bound, 650+ pages.
  • J. J. Keller reference manuals are published every 6 months.

Last update on 2023-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Other Questions

What if my ears are ringing?

Ear ringing, or tinnitus, is a common problem that can be caused by a variety of factors, including exposure to loud noises, earwax buildup, and aging.

While the condition can be frustrating and sometimes uncomfortable, it is typically not serious and can often be treated with simple lifestyle changes. If you are experiencing ear ringing, see your doctor to determine the cause and develop a treatment plan.

How can you file a complaint with OSHA?

If you feel your workplace is unsafe, you may file a complaint with OSHA. You can file a complaint online, by phone, or in writing. You should provide as much information as possible about the safety violation, including the location of the violation and the name of the company or person responsible.

OSHA will investigate your complaint and take appropriate action.  https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs 

What is OSHA called in other countries?

EU-OSHA , or European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, is an agency of the European Union. Its goal is to create a safer and healthier work environment in Europe. It covers over 30 countries.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is a research center that works in partnership with employers, workers, health professionals, public policymakers, and others to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths.


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Nick Le Page

Experience : Hi, I am Nick, and I have suffered with ear problems my whole life, mainly tinnitus. I have tried a lot of products to help protect my ears over this period, and several devices to block out the constant ringing

“Are you having problems hearing? If so, those around you already know it. Hearing loss is no laughing matter, so don’t be a punchline.”

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