Noise Control and Hearing Conservation

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Noise is one of the most common hazards in the workplace. Thousands of workers are exposed to hazardous noise. Occupational health and safety law in Saskatchewan requires the limiting of noise related hazards in the workplace. Employers, contractors and owners have a legal responsibility to reduce noise levels in all areas where workers may be required to work.

An employer or contractor shall:

  • Reduce noise levels in all areas where workers may be required to work by
    • Eliminating or modifying the noise source;
    • Substituting quieter equipment or processes;
    • Enclosing the noise source;
    • Installing acoustical barriers or sound absorbing materials.
  • On or after July 1, 1977, ensure that the lowest reasonably practicable noise levels are achieved in the design and construction of all new places of employment any alteration, renovation or repair to an existing place of employment, and the design and construction of all new equipment to be used at a place of employment.
  • Ensure that, in any area where workers are required or permitted to work and the noise level may frequently exceed 80 dBa,
    • the noise level is measured in accordance with an approved method;
    • a competent person evaluates the sources of the noise and recommends corrective action; and
    • the measurements, evaluation and recommendations are documented.
  • Re-measure noise levels, as above, where altering, renovating or repairing the place of employment, introducing new equipment to the place of employment or modifying any process at the place of employment may result in a significant change in noise levels or occupational noise exposure.
  • Keep a record of the results of any noise level measurements conducted at the place of employment and make available to an affected worker a copy of the results of such measurements conducted.
  • Ensure that any area in which the measurements taken show noise levels in excess of 80 dBA is clearly marked by a sign indicating the range of noise levels.
  • Where a worker is required or permitted by these regulations to use hearing protectors:
    • provide approved hearing protectors.
    • require workers to use those hearing protectors.
    • where practicable, ensure that a hearing protector provided reduces the noise level received into the worker's ears to not more than 85 dBA.
    • where it is not practicable to reduce the noise level received into the worker’s ears to not more than 85 dBA, ensure that a hearing protector provided reduces the noise level received into the worker's ears to the lowest level that is practicable.
    • When the hearing protector provided by the employer or contractor depends for effectiveness on a close approximation of size or shape to the auditory canal of its user, ensure that the hearing protector is fitted to the worker by a competent person.
  • Where a worker's occupational noise exposure is or is believed to be between 80 dBA Lex and 85 dBA Lex:
    • inform the worker of the hazards of occupational noise exposure;
    • on the request of the worker, make available to the worker hearing protectors that meet the requirements of section 99; and
    • train the worker in the selection, use and maintenance of the hearing protectors
  • Where a worker's daily occupational noise exposure equals or exceeds 85 dBA Lex,:
    • inform the worker of the hazards of occupational noise exposure;
    • take all reasonably practicable steps to reduce noise levels in all areas where the worker may be required or permitted to work;
    • minimize the worker's occupational noise exposure to the extent that is reasonably practicable; and
    • document the steps taken, as per above.
  • Where it is not reasonably practicable to reduce noise levels or minimize the worker's occupational noise exposure to less than 85 dBA Lex, provide written reasons for that opinion to the committee and, where there is no committee, shall inform the workers of the reasons for that opinion.
  • Where it is not reasonably practicable to reduce a worker's occupational noise exposure below 85 dBA Lex or the noise level below 90 dBA in any area where a worker may be required or permitted to work:
    • provide approved hearing protector to the worker;
    • train the worker in the selection, use and maintenance of the hearing protector; and
    • arrange for the worker to have, at least once every 24 months during the worker's normal working hours, an audiometric test and appropriate counseling based on the test results under the direction of a physician, an audiologist or a registered nurse who has a certificate in audiometric testing.
  • Where a worker cannot attend an arranged audiometric test during the worker's normal working hours, credit the worker's attendance at the test as time at work and ensure that the worker does not lose any pay or other benefits.
  • Where a worker cannot recover the costs of a audiometric test mentioned above reimburse the worker for the costs of the test that, in the opinion of the director, are reasonable.
  • In consultation with the committee, where 10 or more workers' occupational noise exposure exceeds or is believed to exceed 85 dBA Lex:
    • develop a hearing conservation plan; and
    • review and, where necessary, revise the hearing conservation plan every three years.
  • Implement a hearing conservation plan developed and appoint a supervisor to oversee the plan.
  • A hearing conservation plan must be in writing and must include:
    • the methods and procedures to be used in assessing the occupational noise exposure of workers;
    • the methods of noise control to be used, including engineering controls and administrative arrangements;
    • the selection, use and maintenance of hearing protectors;
    • a plan to train workers in the hazards of excessive exposure to noise and the correct use of control measures and hearing protectors;
    • the maintenance of exposure records;
    • the requirements for audiometric tests; and
    • a schedule for reviewing the hearing conservation plan and procedures for conducting the review.
  • Make a copy of a hearing conservation plan readily available for reference by workers.

Owners shall:

  • Reduce noise levels in all areas where workers may be required to work by
    • Eliminating or modifying the noise source
    • Substituting quieter equipment or processes
    • Enclosing the noise source
    • Installing acoustical barriers or sound absorbing materials.
  • On or after July 1, 1977, ensure that the lowest reasonably practicable noise levels are achieved in the design and construction of all new places of employment any alteration, renovation or repair to an existing place of employment, and the design and construction of all new equipment to be used at a place of employment.

As a worker you shall:

  • Wear hearing protectors provided by the employer.
  • When the hearing protector provide becomes defective return to the employer and inform the employer of the defect.
  • Immediately report to the employer or supervisor all equipment you know or have reason to believe is unsafe.

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996
S.S., c. O-1.1, Reg 1

Part I Preliminary Matters

Section 2 Interpretation

2. (1) In these regulations and in all other regulations made pursuant to the Act:

(a) "Act" means The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 ;

(b) "air-purifying respirator" means a respirator that removes airborne contaminants from the air inhaled by a worker;

(c) "approved" means:

(i) approved by an agency acceptable to the director for use under the conditions prescribed by the agency; or

(ii) approved conditionally or otherwise by a certificate of the director;

(d) "atmosphere-supplying respirator" means a respirator that delivers clean breathing air to a worker from a compressor or a cylinder, an SCBA, whether closed or open circuit, or a combination of SCBA and supplied air;

(e) "borehole" means a mechanically drilled hole in the ground;

(f) "building shaft" means a continuous vertical space substantially enclosed on all sides that extends for two or more floors, and includes an elevator shaft, a ventilation shaft, a stairwell and a service shaft;

(g) "class A qualification" means a certificate or certificates that:

(i) are issued by an agency, as defined in section 50, with respect to the successful completion of a first aid training course and a cardiopulmonary resuscitation training course that meet the minimum requirements for course duration and content set out in Table 1 of the Appendix; and

(ii) qualify the holder to perform the services set out in Table 2 of the Appendix;

(h) "class B qualification" means a certificate or certificates that:

(i) are issued by an agency, as defined in section 50, with respect to the successful completion of a first aid training course and a cardiopulmonary resuscitation training course that meet the minimum requirements for course duration and content set out in Table 3 of the Appendix; and

(ii) qualify the holder to perform the services set out in Table 4 of the Appendix;

(i) "Class C fire" means a fire involving energized electrical equipment;

(j) "co-chairpersons" means, with respect to a committee, the employer or contractor co-chairperson appointed pursuant to clause 43(1)(b) and the worker co-chairperson elected pursuant to clause 43(1)(a);

(k) "committee" means an occupational health committee;

(l) "competent" means possessing knowledge, experience and training to perform a specific duty;

(m) "competent worker", with respect to a particular task or duty, includes a worker who is being trained to perform that task or carry out that duty and who is under close and competent supervision during that training;

(n) "connecting linkage" means a lanyard, safety hook, cable or connector inserted between a personal fall arrest system and the D-ring on a worker's full-body harness;

(o) "construction" means the erection, alteration, renovation, repair, dismantling, demolition, structural maintenance and painting of a structure, and includes:

(i) land clearing, earth moving, grading, excavating, trenching, digging, boring, drilling, blasting and concreting; and

(ii) the installation of any plant;

(p) "controlled product" means a controlled product within the meaning of the Hazardous Products Act (Canada);

(q) "dBA" means the sound pressure level in decibels measured on the A scale of a sound level meter;

(r) "dBA Lex" means the level of a worker's total exposure to noise, in dBA, averaged over an entire workday and adjusted to an equivalent eight-hour exposure;

(s) "designated signaller" means a worker designated pursuant to clause 132(1)(a) to give signals;

(t) "emergency medical technician" means a person who is licensed as an emergency medical technician, emergency medical technician-advanced or emergency medical technician-paramedic pursuant to The Ambulance Act;

(u) "escape respirator" means an atmosphere-supplying respirator or an air-purifying respirator that is designed to be used by a worker for escape purposes only;

(v) "excavated shaft" means a dug-out passage into the ground, the longest dimension of which exceeds 1.5 metres and of which the acute angle between the axis of the longest dimension and the vertical is less than 45;

(w) "excavation" means any dug-out area of ground other than a trench, tunnel or excavated shaft;

(x) "fall-arresting device" Repealed. [Sask. Reg. 67/2007, s. 3]

(y) "first aid" means immediate assistance given in case of injury until medical aid has been obtained;

(z) "first aid attendant" means the holder of a valid:

(i) class A qualification;

(ii) class B qualification;

(iii) emergency medical technician's licence; or

(iv) licence, certificate or other qualification that, in the opinion of the director, is equivalent to or superior to a qualification set out in subclauses (i) to (iii);

(aa) "first aid register" means the register required by section 57;

(bb) "first aid station" means a work-related area containing the supplies and equipment required by subsection 56(1);

(bb.1) "forklift" means a self-propelled machine that has a power-operated upright, angled or telescoping lifting device that can raise and lower a load for the purpose of transporting or stacking;

(cc) "full-body harness" means a safety device that is capable of suspending a worker without causing the worker to bend at the waist, and consists of straps that pass over the worker's shoulders and around the worker's legs, an upper dorsal suspension assembly and all integral hardware;

(dd) "hand tool" means hand-held equipment that is powered by the energy of a worker;

(ee) "harmful" means known to cause harm or injury;

(ff) "hazardous" means likely to cause harm or injury in certain circumstances;

(gg) "HEPA filter" means a high-efficiency particulate aerosol filter that is at least 99.97% efficient in collecting a 0.3 micrometre aerosol;

(hh) "hoist" means a machine that consists of a raising and lowering mechanism;

(ii) "immediately dangerous to life or health" means a condition in which a hazardous atmosphere exists to such an extent that a worker who is not using an approved respiratory protective device will suffer escape-impairing or irreversible health effects if the worker does not leave the hazardous atmosphere within 30 minutes;

(jj) "instruct" means to give information and direction to a worker with respect to particular subject-matter;

(kk) "lifeline" means a length of rope or strap that is attached to a safe point of anchorage at one end or, in the case of a horizontal lifeline, at both ends to provide support and a guide for a personal fall arrest system or personnel lowering device;

(ll) "locked out" means to have isolated the energy source or sources from equipment, to have dissipated any residual energy in a system and to have secured the isolation by a device that is operated by a key or other process;

(mm) "machine" means any combination of mechanical parts that transmits from one part to another or otherwise modifies force, motion or energy;

(nn) "maintained" means kept in a condition of efficient and safe functioning by a system of regular examination, testing and servicing or repair;

(oo) "The Mines Regulations" means The Mines Regulations, 2003 ;

(pp) "officer" means an occupational health officer;

(qq) "operator" means a person who operates any equipment;

(qq.1) "percutaneous" means a route of entry that is through the skin or mucous membrane, and includes subcutaneous, intramuscular and intravascular routes of entry.

(qq.2) "personal fall arrest system" means personal protective equipment that provides a means of safely arresting the fall of a worker and that, subsequent to the arrest of the fall, does not by itself permit the further release or lowering of the worker;

(rr) "personal protective equipment" means any clothing, device or other article that is intended to be worn or used by a worker to prevent injury or to facilitate rescue;

(ss) "personnel lowering device" means a device that provides a means of lowering a worker from a height at a controlled rate of descent;

(tt) "power tool" means a hand-held machine that is powered by energy other than the energy of a worker;

(uu) "powered mobile equipment" means a self-propelled machine or a combination of machines, including a prime mover, that is designed to manipulate or move materials or to provide a work platform for workers;

(vv) "professional engineer" means an engineer who is registered pursuant to The Engineering Profession Act;

(ww) "public highway" means a public highway as defined in The Highways and Transportation Act, 1997 ;

(xx) "qualified" means possessing a recognized degree, a recognized certificate or a recognized professional standing and demonstrating, by knowledge, training and experience, the ability to deal with problems related to the subject-matter, the work or the project;

(yy) "representative" means an occupational health and safety representative;

(zz) "respiratory protective device" means a device that is designed to protect a wearer from inhaling a hazardous atmosphere, and includes an atmosphere-supplying respirator, an air-purifying respirator and an escape respirator;

(aaa) "safeguard" means a guard, shield, wire mesh, guardrail, gate, barrier, safety net, handrail or other similar equipment that is designed to protect the safety of workers, but does not include personal protective equipment;

(bbb) "safety belt" Repealed. [Sask. Reg. 67/2007, s. 3]

(ccc) "SCBA" means self-contained breathing apparatus;

(ddd) "supervisor" means a person who is authorized by an employer to oversee or direct the work of workers;

(eee) "train" means to give information and explanation to a worker with respect to a particular subject-matter and require a practical demonstration that the worker has acquired knowledge or skill related to the subject-matter;

(fff) "travelway" means any place where workers or vehicles regularly travel or pass, and includes a ramp, runway, catwalk, bridge, conveyor, gantry or passage;

(ggg) "trench" means an elongated dug-out area of land whose depth exceeds its width at the bottom;

(hhh) "tunnel" means an underground passage that has an incline of not more than 45 from the horizontal;

(iii) "vehicle" means a machine in, on or by which a person or thing may be transported, and includes powered mobile equipment;

(jjj) "work" and "at work" means:

(i) the time during which a worker is in the course of the worker's employment; or

(ii) the time that a self-employed person devotes to work as a self-employed person;

(kkk) "work-related area" means all places that are ancillary to a place of employment, and includes lunchrooms, restrooms, first aid rooms, lecture rooms, parking lots under the control of the employer or contractor, offices and work camp living accommodations, but does not include a permanent living accommodation.

(2) For the purposes of the Act and in these regulations and all other regulations made pursuant to the Act, "injury" includes any disease and any impairment of the physical or mental condition of a person.

(3) Any word or expression used but not defined in these regulations or the Act has the meaning commonly given to it at places of employment in the industry concerned.

(4) Unless otherwise expressly stated:

(a) lumber sizes specified in these regulations are lumber sizes after dressing; and

(b) "lumber" means lumber that is free of visible defects.

[Sask. Reg. 6/97, s. 3; 35/2003, s. 3; 112/2005, s. 3; 67/2007, s. 3]

3. Repealed. [Sask. Reg. 35/2003, s. 4]

Part VIII Noise Control and Hearing Conservation

Section 109 General duty

109. (1) An employer, contractor or owner shall ensure that all reasonably practicable means are used to reduce noise levels in all areas where workers may be required or permitted to work.

(2) The means to reduce noise levels pursuant to subsection (1) may include any of the following:

(a) eliminating or modifying the noise source;

(b) substituting quieter equipment or processes;

(c) enclosing the noise source;

(d) installing acoustical barriers or sound-absorbing materials.

Section 110 Noise reduction through design, construction of buildings

110. On and after July 1, 1997, an employer, contractor or owner shall ensure that:

(a) all new places of employment are designed and constructed so as to achieve the lowest reasonably practicable noise level;

(b) any alteration, renovation or repair to an existing place of employment is made so as to achieve the lowest reasonably practicable noise level; and

(c) all new equipment to be used at a place of employment is designed and constructed so as to achieve the lowest reasonably practicable noise level.

Section 111 Measurement of noise levels

111. (1) In every area where workers are required or permitted to work and the noise level may frequently exceed 80 dBA, an employer or contractor shall ensure that:

(a) the noise level is measured in accordance with an approved method;

(b) in consultation with the committee, the representative or, where there is no committee or representative, the workers, a competent person evaluates the sources of the noise and recommends corrective action; and

(c) the measurements, evaluation and recommendations are documented.

(2) An employer or contractor shall re-measure the noise level in accordance with subsection (1) where altering, renovating or repairing the place of employment, introducing new equipment to the place of employment or modifying any process at the place of employment may result in a significant change in noise levels or occupational noise exposure.

(3) An employer or contractor shall keep a record of the results of any noise level measurements conducted at the place of employment as long as the employer or contractor operates in Saskatchewan.

(4) On request, an employer or contractor shall make available to an affected worker a copy of the results of any measurements conducted.

(5) An employer or contractor shall ensure that any area in which the measurements taken pursuant to subsection (1) show noise levels in excess of 80 dBA is clearly marked by a sign indicating the range of noise levels.

Section 112 Hearing protection required

112. Where a worker's occupational noise exposure is or is believed to be between 80 dBA Lex and 85 dBA Lex, an employer or contractor shall:

(a) inform the worker of the hazards of occupational noise exposure;

(b) on the request of the worker, make available to the worker hearing protectors that meet the requirements of section 99; and

(c) train the worker in the selection, use and maintenance of the hearing protectors.

Section 113 Daily exposure greater than 85 dBA Lex

113. (1) Where a worker's occupational noise exposure equals or exceeds 85 dBA Lex, an employer or contractor shall:

(a) inform the worker of the hazards of occupational noise exposure;

(b) take all reasonably practicable steps to reduce noise levels in all areas where the worker may be required or permitted to work;

(c) minimize the worker's occupational noise exposure to the extent that is reasonably practicable; and

(d) document the steps taken pursuant to clauses (b) and (c).

(2) Where, in the opinion of the employer or contractor, it is not reasonably practicable to reduce noise levels or minimize the worker's occupational noise exposure to less than 85 dBA Lex, an employer or contractor shall provide written reasons for that opinion to the committee and, where there is no committee, shall inform the workers of the reasons for that opinion.

(3) Where it is not reasonably practicable to reduce a worker's occupational noise exposure below 85 dBA Lex or the noise level below 90 dBA in any area where a worker may be required or permitted to work, an employer or contractor shall:

(a) provide a hearing protector to the worker that meets the requirements of section 99;

(b) train the worker in the selection, use and maintenance of the hearing protector; and

(c) arrange for the worker to have, at least once every 24 months during the worker's normal working hours, an audiometric test and appropriate counselling based on the test results under the direction of a physician, an audiologist or a registered nurse who has a certificate in audiometric testing.

(4) Where a worker cannot attend an audiometric test mentioned in clause (3)(c) during the worker's normal working hours, an employer or contractor shall credit the worker's attendance at the test as time at work and ensure that the worker does not lose any pay or other benefits.

(5) Where a worker cannot recover the costs of a audiometric test mentioned in clause (3)(c), an employer or contractor shall reimburse the worker for the costs of the test that, in the opinion of the director, are reasonable.

Section 114 Hearing conservation plan

114. (1) Where 10 or more workers' occupational noise exposure exceeds or is believed to exceed 85 dBA Lex, an employer or contractor shall, in consultation with the committee:

(a) develop a hearing conservation plan; and

(b) review and, where necessary, revise the hearing conservation plan every three years.

(2) An employer or contractor shall implement a hearing conservation plan developed pursuant to subsection (1) and appoint a supervisor to oversee the plan.

(3) A hearing conservation plan must be in writing and must include:

(a) the methods and procedures to be used in assessing the occupational noise exposure of workers;

(b) the methods of noise control to be used, including engineering controls and administrative arrangements;

(c) the selection, use and maintenance of hearing protectors;

(d) a plan to train workers in the hazards of excessive exposure to noise and the correct use of control measures and hearing protectors;

(e) the maintenance of exposure records;

(f) the requirements for audiometric tests; and

(g) a schedule for reviewing the hearing conservation plan and procedures for conducting the review.

(4) An employer or contractor shall make a copy of a hearing conservation plan readily available for reference by workers.

Part III General Duties

Section 25 Maintenance and repair of equipment

25. (1) An employer shall ensure that all equipment is maintained at intervals that are sufficient to ensure the safe functioning of the equipment.

(2) Where a defect is found in equipment, an employer shall ensure that:

(a) steps are taken immediately to protect the health and safety of any worker who may be at risk until the defect is corrected; and

(b) the defect is corrected by a competent person as soon as is reasonably practicable.

(3) A worker who knows or has reason to believe that equipment under the worker's control is not in a safe condition shall:

(a) immediately report the condition of the equipment to the employer; and

(b) repair the equipment if the worker is authorized and competent to do so.

Part VII Personal Protective Equipment

Section 87 General responsibilities

87. (1) Where an employer or contractor is required by these regulations or any other regulations made pursuant to the Act to provide personal protective equipment, the employer or contractor shall:

(a) supply approved personal protective equipment to the workers at no cost to the workers;

(b) ensure that the personal protective equipment is used by the workers;

(c) ensure that the personal protective equipment is at the worksite before work begins;

(d) ensure that the personal protective equipment is stored in a clean, secure location that is readily accessible to workers;

(e) ensure that each worker is aware of the location of the personal protective equipment and trained in its use;

(f) inform the workers of the reasons why the personal protective equipment is required to be used and of the limitations of its protection; and

(g) ensure that personal protective equipment provided to a worker:

(i) is suitable and adequate and a proper fit for that worker;

(ii) is maintained and kept in a sanitary condition; and

(iii) is removed from use or service when damaged.

(2) Where an employer or contractor requires a worker to clean and maintain personal protective equipment, the employer shall ensure that the worker has adequate time during normal working hours without loss of pay or other benefits for this purpose.

(3) Where reasonably practicable, an employer or contractor shall make appropriate adjustments to the work procedures and the rate of work to eliminate or reduce the danger or discomfort to the worker that may arise from the worker's use of personal protective equipment.

(4) A worker who is provided with personal protective equipment by an employer or contractor shall:

(a) use the personal protective equipment; and

(b) take reasonable steps to prevent damage to the personal protective equipment.

(5) Where personal protective equipment provided to a worker becomes defective or otherwise fails to provide the protection it was intended for, the worker shall:

(a) return the personal protective equipment to the employer or contractor; and

(b) inform the employer or contractor of the defect or other reason why the personal protective equipment does not provide the protection that it was intended to provide.

(6) An employer or contractor shall immediately repair or replace any personal protective equipment returned to the employer or contractor pursuant to clause (5)(a).

Section 99 Exposure to noise

99. (1) Where a worker is required or permitted by these regulations to use hearing protectors, an employer or contractor shall:

(a) provide approved hearing protectors; and

(b) require workers to use those hearing protectors where the worker is required to use hearing protectors by these regulations.

(2) Where practicable, an employer or contractor shall ensure that a hearing protector provided pursuant to subsection (1) reduces the noise level received into the worker's ears to not more than 85 dBA.

(3) Where it is not practicable to comply with subsection (2), an employer or contractor shall ensure that a hearing protector provided pursuant to subsection (1) reduces the noise level received into the worker's ears to the lowest level that is practicable.

(4) Where an employer or contractor provides a worker with a hearing protector that depends for effectiveness on a close approximation of size or shape to the auditory canal of its user, the employer or contractor shall ensure that the hearing protector is fitted to the worker by a competent person.

100. Repealed. [Sask. Reg. 67/2007, s. 6]