New Noise Regulation for Ontario Employers

By Joanne Deschenaux Jan 29, 2016
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All Ontario employers will be required to comply with a new workplace noise regulation, effective July 1, 2016. The regulation was passed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and will replace noise-protection requirements currently in effect for industrial establishments, mines and mining plants, and oil and gas offshore facilities.

The new obligations also will apply to the following types of workplaces, which previously were not subjected to noise regulation:

  • Construction sites.
  • Health care facilities.
  • Schools.
  • Farming operations.
  • Firefighting services.
  • Police services.
  • Amusement parks.

The new regulation mandates that:

  • Employers take “all measures reasonably necessary in the circumstances to protect workers from exposure to hazardous sound levels.”
  • The noise-protection measures must “include the provision and use of engineering controls, work practices,” and, where required (and permitted), hearing-protection devices.
  • In general, every employer must ensure that no worker is exposed to a sound level greater than an equivalent sound exposure level of 85 decibels over an eight-hour shift, or else require workers to wear hearing-protection devices.
  • Hearing-protection devices are a secondary (not primary) noise-protection solution and will be permitted only in certain listed circumstances.
  • Employers must, where practicable, post a warning sign at every entrance to an area where the sound level regularly exceeds 85 decibels.
  • Employers that provide hearing-protection devices must provide appropriate hearing-protection training to workers who use those devices.

Joanne Deschenaux, J.D., is SHRM’s senior legal editor.

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