Blog Post #1046 – Hearing-Loss Warning Issued by WorkSafeBC

Blog Post #1046 – Hearing-Loss Warning Issued by WorkSafeBC

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

WorkSafeBC issued a safety bulletin on May 21, 2019 to warn about the risk of hearing loss in the service industry, after studies found that noise levels in pubs and nightclubs in Vancouver and Victoria often exceed 85 dB, which can cause permanent hearing loss and unprotected workers.

“Noise is a serious and widespread problem in many workplaces, and this includes a service industry,” says Dan Strand, Dir. of prevention services at WorkSafeBC in Richmond. “Our research has found that most service-sector workers and employers are not aware of the risk of hearing loss.”

While hearing protection is key in the service industry, our tenders, servers and other workers are often reluctant to use hearing protection as they believe it will make it difficult to communicate with customers. In fact, hearing protection devices protect workers while allowing them to hear clearly.

“Studies show that when noise levels reach 90 dB or higher, hearing protection actually improves your ability to hear speech,” Strand says. “We need to change how we think about hearing protection in the service industry.”

My opinion

The Ontario ‘Industrial Establishments” sector regulation 851/90, section 139 covering occupational noise has now been revoked. The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) new regulation 381/15 covers noise in many sectors..

The employer has certain duties under the new legislation.

Duty to protect workers

2 (1) Every employer shall take all measures reasonably necessary in the circumstances to protect workers from exposure to hazardous sound levels.

(2) The protective measures shall include the provision and use of engineering controls, work practices and, subject to subsection (5), hearing protection devices.

(3) Any measurement of sound levels in the workplace that is done in order to determine what protective measures are appropriate shall be done without regard to the use of hearing protection devices.

(4) Without limiting the generality of subsections (1) and (2), every employer shall ensure that no worker is exposed to a sound level greater than an equivalent sound exposure level of 85 dBA, Lex,8.

(5) Except in the circumstances set out in subsection (6), the employer shall protect workers from exposure to a sound level greater than the limit described in subsection (4) without requiring them to use and wear hearing protection devices.

(6) Workers shall wear and use hearing protection devices appropriate in the circumstances to protect them from exposure to a sound level greater than the limit described in subsection (4) if engineering controls are required by subsections (1) and (2) and,

(a) are not in existence or are not obtainable;

(b) are 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;

(c) are rendered ineffective because of a temporary breakdown of such controls; or

(d) are ineffective to prevent, control or limit exposure because of an emergency.

(7) Where practicable, a clearly visible warning sign shall be posted at every approach to an area in the workplace where the sound level, measured as described in subsection (3), regularly exceeds 85 dBA.

There has to be training as well.

Training and instruction

  1. An employer who provides a worker with a hearing protection device shall also provide adequate training and instruction to the worker in the care and use of the device, including its limitations, proper fitting, inspection and maintenance and, if applicable, the cleaning and disinfection of the device.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including noise concerns. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259 We can also be reached at

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.