The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers in New Jersey and around the country to put hearing conservation programs and administrative controls into place when noise levels in the workplace are likely to reach levels that could damage human hearing. In most industrial situations, putting in ear plugs or wearing earmuffs is all that is needed to provide workers with adequate protection and meet OSHA standards. However, the noise levels in some work environments reach levels high enough to require double hearing protection.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends double hearing protection when the average noise level during shifts lasting eight hours or longer is higher than 100 A-weighted decibels. The Mine Safety and Health Administration requires double hearing protection when mine workers are exposed to average noise levels of 105 A-weighted decibels during their shifts.
Double hearing protection is taking two steps to prevent hearing loss instead of one. This could be accomplished by wearing earmuffs and using ear plugs instead of choosing one or the other. However, workers should be trained to insert ear plugs correctly, or the benefits provided by double hearing protection could be lost. According to OSHA guidelines, the added benefits of double hearing protection should be calculated by increasing the noise reduction rating of the highest-rated hearing protection device being used by five.
Workers who suffer hearing loss or develop other medical problems because of their work conditions are usually entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits, but navigating the application process can be a frustrating experience for individuals unaccustomed to bureaucratic paperwork. Attorneys with experience in this area may help injured workers complete their claim documents and gather the medical evidence they will be asked to provide. Attorneys may also advocate on their behalf if their workers’ compensation claims are denied or challenged by their employers.