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Washington Noise: What you need to know

Washington’s noise reduction rules in general industry workplaces mirror federal rules, and the state has adopted some requirements that are stricter than federal rules (WAC 296-817-100 to 296-817-600). These stricter standards address exposure-monitoring reports, noise-measuring equipment, hearing protectors, and signage.

NOISE EXPOSURE MONITORING
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WAC 296-817-20005

The employer must notify each employee whose exposure equals or exceeds 85 decibels (dB) a time-weighted average (TWA) of the monitoring results within 5 working days of receiving the results.

HEARING PROTECTOR THRESHOLDS
WAC 296-817-20015

Hearing protectors must reduce employee exposure to a TWA of 85 decibels or below. Employers must ensure that hearing protectors are worn by any employee who is exposed to noise above 115 dB for one second or more, or who is exposed to any impulsive or impact noise measured at or above 140 dB measured using fast response.

HEARING PROTECTOR SELECTION
WAC 296-817-20015

The employer must offer each exposed employee at least two distinct types of protectors (e.g., molded earplugs, foam earplugs, custom-molded earplugs, ear caps, or earmuffs). The protectors must be sufficient to cover different levels of hearing protection needed in order to reduce all employee exposures to a level below 85 dBA TWA, different sizes, and different working conditions.

The employer must consider requests of the employees regarding physical comfort, environmental conditions, medical needs, and communication requirements.

POSTING OF WARNING SIGNS
WAC 296-817-20025

Signs must be posted at entrances to or on the periphery of all well-defined work areas in which employees may be exposed at or above 115 dB ...


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Noise Products

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Hearing Protection
Explains OSHA regulations concerning noise in the workplace, the problems that noise can cause, and the need to protect hearing on and off the job. Also covers how noise is measured, how hearing is tested, and the use of hearing protectors. (44 pages)"
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