Hearing Protection FAQs

How are sound levels measured in industrial work environments?

Two devices are commonly used to measure sound levels in commercial and industrial workplaces.

A sound level meter is used to measure sound pressure levels in decibels (dB). The device is often tripod-mounted and used in a fixed location.

A noise dosimeter is a specialized, portable sound meter used to measure a worker’s noise exposure over time and small enough to be worn for an entire shift.

How do I know if noise levels are too high for my employees?

Measuring sound levels for the purpose of determining occupational noise exposure must take into account a “time-weighted average noise level of 85 dBA or higher over an 8-hour work shift.”

Consult your safety manager or an environmental safety and health professional for assistance with compliance and noise exposure mitigation. Resources are available from OSHA and industry groups.

How do I know whether noise levels are dangerous?

Three factors combine to determine whether you’re at risk for hearing damage from noise exposure: sound level, time and distance. Sounds above 85 decibels are risky and sounds above 125 decibels will cause immediate hearing damage.

The risks increase with the amount of time you’re exposed to loud noise, and how close you are to the source of that noise. The louder it is, the longer you’re exposed and the closer you are to it, the more you’re at risk for hearing damage.

What are the OSHA requirements for hearing protection?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to take steps to reduce occupational noise exposure when an employee is exposed to a “time-weighted average noise level of 85 dBA or higher over an 8-hour work shift.”


What is a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)?

The Environmental Protection Agency requires any hearing protector sold in the U.S. to have a noise reduction rating (NRR). NRR is a measure of a hearing protection device’s ability to reduce the wearer’s sound exposure. The higher the number, the greater the potential for noise reduction.

What is the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of a Sonetics wireless headset?

Sonetics headsets have a Noise Reduction Rating of 24 decibels (24dB NRR).