Did you know...

Sound exposure is the second leading cause of hearing loss.


OSHA requires a hearing conservation program to be in place when workers are exposed to noise levels of 85 decibels (dB) and above. Examples of hearing protection devices include ear plugs or ear muffs.  Hearing loss is often ignored because it can happen gradually over a period of time. The use of personal listening devices, such as ear buds or headphones, cannot take the place of hearing protection.

Some examples of equipment at UVM that may require hearing protection are sonicators, cage washers, and powered groundskeeping equipment.  A risk assessment should be conducted before appropriate hearing protection is chosen.

Hearing protection devices receive a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). This is the measurement, in decibels, of how well a hearing protector reduces noise as specified by the EPA.The higher the NRR number, the greater the noise reduction. While wearing hearing protection, your exposure to noise is equal to the total noise level minus the NRR of the hearing protectors in use. OSHA and NIOSH have developed different methods of "derating" the NRR based upon the type of hearing protection being used, as well as the type of noise it is used for.

Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL)
The limits for permissible noise exposure, according to OSHA standards, are shown in the table below. Short-term noise exposure should be limited to a level not greater than 115 dBA. Occupational Health & Safety is available to monitor noise levels, as requested.

PELs for Noise According to OSHA:

8 hours90 dB
6 hours92 dB
4 hours95 dB
3 hours97 dB
2 hours100 dB
1.5 hours102 dB
1 hour105 dB
30 min110 dB
15 min115 dB


To request a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or other specific training, please contact your supervisor and the Occupational Health and Safety Office at ohso@uvm.edu or call 802.656 SAFE (7233).