Ontario noise regulation changes in effect
As of July 1, 2016, all employers in Ontario, including farmers, are required to comply with new workplace noise regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The legislation states that farmers and other employers shall ensure that their employees are not exposed to hazardous levels of noise. Hazardous noise, according to the legislation, is 85 dBA or louder, for a time period of approximately eight hours. Examples of 85 dBA are illustrated below.
This legislation does not apply to self-employed farmers with no employees.
What this means to farmers
This results in additional responsibilities for farmers to ensure safe working conditions for their employees.
- Farmers shall take reasonable measures for the circumstances, to protect workers from exposure to hazardous sound levels.
- Noise protective measures may be engineering controls (altering work environment), work practices and, where required and permitted, hearing protection devices.
- Measurements of sound levels in the workplace (for the purpose of determining appropriate protective measures) shall be done without regard to the use or effect of hearing protective devices.
- Employers should ensure that workers are not exposed to hazardous sound levels of 85 dBA, for eight hours.
- Except for certain circumstances, employers shall protect workers from exposure to hazardous sound levels without requiring workers to wear hearing protective devices.
- Protective hearing devices are not to be used as a primary means of protecting hearing only in the certain circumstances listed below.
- Where practicable, clearly visible warning signs shall be posted at every approach to an area in the workplace where the sound level regularly exceeds 85 dBA.
Hearing protective devices shall be used if other forms of protection such as modifying equipment, absorbing noise, or changing frequency of noise cannot be achieved due to:
- not in existence or are not obtainable;
- 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;
- rendered ineffective; or
- are ineffective to prevent, control or limit exposure because of an emergency.
If hearing protection devices are provided employers shall also provide adequate training and instruction on the care and use of the device including its limitations, proper fit, inspection and maintenance and if applicable the cleaning and disinfection of the device.
Selecting hearing protection devices
When selecting hearing protection devices consider:
- sound levels to which a worker is exposed;
- the reduction provided by the device; and
- The manufacturer’s information about the use and limitations of the device.
Summary of changes
In situations where noise levels are hazardous farmers shall consider the particular circumstances of the situation and use engineering controls, safe work practices and in certain circumstances, provide employees with proper hearing protection devices and necessary training for how to use.
For more information, visit http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english orhttps://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r15381.