Unlike key sector regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) for Industrial Establishments, Mines and Mining Plants and Oil and Gas - Ontario's Construction Projects Regulation (O. Reg. 213/91) does not have specific regulatory requirements addressing worker exposure to noise. A new Noise Regulation 381/15 will change this.
Regulation 381/15 was approved on December 9th, 2015 and will come into effect July 1st, 2016.
Key changes include:
- Prescribing, for workers exposed to noise, a maximum time-weighted exposure limit of 85 decibels over an eight-hour work shift.
- Requiring employers to put in place measures to reduce worker's exposure based on a "hierarchy of controls", would could include engineering controls, work practices, and the use of personal protective equipment in the form of hearing protection devices and
- Requiring employers who provide a worker with a hearing protection device to provide adequate training and instruction on that device.
Preparing for July 1st, 2016
Review your Hearing Protection safety policy to ensure procedures are in place for controlling noise hazards. Your written procedures should include controlling noise hazards through the "hierarchy of controls" principles.
CONTROLLING AT THE SOURCE
Can the noise hazard be eliminated? If the hazard can be eliminated, consider controlling the hazard through "engineering controls" (an engineering control removes the hazard by redesigning or reconstructing elements of the work process. An example of this would be installing new equipment, adding safety features to existing machines, or re-routing the work process). If engineering controls are not an option, then consider controlling the hazard along the path.
CONTROLLING ALONG THE PATH
Examples may include controlling the noise hazard through "barriers". An example would be posting safety signs and notices in high noise work areas which include specific time activities, etc.
If the noise hazard cannot be controlled "along the path" then the last options maybe controlling the hazard at the "Worker Level".
CONTROLLING AT THE WORKER LEVEL
Controlling the hazard at the worker level maybe the only option for a busy construction site. This can simply mean providing the required hearing protective device for the job being performed.
Other examples of controls at the worker level may include the following:
Isolation Controls - can the noise hazard be isolated to particular time(s) of day.
Work Process Controls - means of doing a job in a way which is less hazardous.
Administrative Controls - rules and procedures that control the worker rather than the hazard.
Train and instruct the worker on how to use proper hearing protections and hearing protection device options will be required under this regulation.
In practice, it is expected that a large number of noise sources in construction would qualify for the wearing of personal protective equipment by workers. However, please remember that the new regulation requires employers to triage the options under the principles of "hierarchy of controls".
*The new Regulation (381/15) will be replacing noise protection requirements currently in the regulations for Industrial Establishments, Mines and Mining Plants, and Oil and Gas-Offshore.
New workplaces covered by this regulation include:
- construction projects
- health care facilities
- farming operations
- fire services
- police services
- amusement parks
The Noise Regulation comes into effect on July 1, 2016. It will help protect Ontario's workers from noise-induced hearing loss, a leading cause of occupational disease for Ontario workers.
A copy of the new regulation can be found Here
For further information please contact Greg Sathmary at (613) 260-0600.