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8. RISK FACTORS IN THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT 22 Noise Loud noise causes permanent hearing damage if the worker is not appropriately protec- ted against the noise. Hearing impairment is usually gradual as a result of prolonged exposure to noise. But there are certain risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and reduced peripheral blood flow, which also contribute to hearing impairment. Tinnitus is often caused when exposed to loud pulsating or pounding sounds. Besides typical hearing damage loud noise can also cause sleep disturbances and impaired ability to concentrate. Protection of workers against noise is determined in the Council of State Ordinance. The lower exposure action value of the daily noise exposure is 80 dB and the upper exposure action value is 85 dB. When the noise level exceeds 80 dB, the employer should provide personal hearing protection for the workers. The worker exposed to noise at this level has a right to have his hearing tested. If the exposure is at or over 85 dB, the employer must provide the workers with personal hearing protection and the workers are responsible to wear them. The zones where the workers could be exposed to noise levels over 85 dB should be clearly marked and restricted and there should be limited access to these zones. Additionally, there needs to be a noise control program in the company. Hazardous noise levels with their exposure times The range where hearing impairment can be caused 120 110 100 90 80 Noise level/dB 15 min Exposure time 2 min 1 min 4 min 8 min 30 min 4 hours 8 hours 1 hours 2 hours


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