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Appendix D: Noise Exposures in Construction, Mining, Farming and Firefighting Operations

  • Issued: December 5, 2016
  • Content last reviewed: December 2016

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

Noise in Construction

There are many noisy tasks in construction. Some of the main sources of noise in construction include: impacting tools (such as concrete breakers); use of explosives (such as blasting, cartridge tools); pneumatically powered equipment and internal combustion engines. Sinclair and Haflidson of the Construction Safety Association of Ontario (now known as Infrastructure Health and Safety Association) studied construction noise in Ontario. Their study in early 1990’s included various construction categories involving 27 construction projects and contractors’ facilities in Ontario. Noise dosimetry measurements from this study revealed the following: thermal electric generating plant refurbishing (107.7 dBA); gravel plant work (100.7 dBA); sewer/water main work (98.8 dBA), maintenance in a building (95.2 dBA), sheet metal fabrication (94.9 dBA), road and bridge construction (93.2 dBA) and residential construction (93.1 dBA).

In addition, the following chart provides noise levels in dBA associated with the operation of equipment found on construction sites.

Typical Noise Level Measurements for Construction Equipment [1]
Equipment[2] Noise Level (dBA) at Operator's Position
Cranes 78 – 103
Backhoes 85 – 104
Loaders 77 – 106
Dozers 86 – 106
Scrapers 97 – 112
Trenchers 95 – 99
Pile drivers[3] 119 – 125
Compactors 90 – 112
Grinders 106 – 110
Chainsaws 100 – 115
Concrete saw 97 – 103
Sand blasting nozzle 111 – 117
Jackhammers 100 – 115
Compressors 85 – 104

Noise in Mining

Most of the of exposure to noise in mining comes from the need to use heavy machinery underground, but careful design and new technology and materials can be used to minimize this. Noise assessment in mining plants need to identify noise sources in order to effectively apply the hierarchy of controls. The table below provides some noise sources and exposures in mines and mining plants.

Noise Sources and Exposures in Mines and Mining Plants[4]
Noise Source Range (dB) Midpoint
Cutting machines 83 – 93 88
Locomotives (electrical) 85 – 95 90
Haulage truck 90 – 100 95
Loaders 95 – 100 98
Long-wall shearers 96 – 101 99
Chain conveyors 97 – 100 99
Continuous miners 97 – 103 100
Loader-dumper 97 – 102 100
Fans 90 – 110 100
Pneumatic percussion tools 114 – 120 117

Noise in Farming (Agriculture Industry)

Sources of hazardous noise in the farming/agriculture industry include machinery, equipment and livestock.

Sample Noise Levels[5]
Noise Source Range (dB)
Chicken Coop; conventional voices 60-70
Tractor idling; conveyors 80
Diesel Trucks; Power Lawn Mowers 95
Power Tools 100

Noise and Firefighting Operations

NIOSH Survey of Noise Levels in Fire Department Surveys[6]
Job description/source Average noise levels
Maximum noise levels
Driver 84–88 106–109
Jump seat 85–88 105–106
Tiller 75 97
EMS 78 100
Ventilation (sawing/blower) 87–109 110–114
Vehicle extraction (chisels/spreaders) 90–106 98–115
Fire suppression (ladders/water pumps) 89–91 84–98
Fire station (testing alarm/tools/engine) 88–101 92–116
Fire station (break room) 67 68

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[1] Source: IHSA’s Construction Health and Safety Manual, Chapter 14: Hearing Protection

[2] Generally, newer equipment is quieter than older equipment.

[3] Pile drivers and explosive-actuated tools generate intermittent or “impulse” sound.

[4] Source: McBride, D (2004).Noise-induced hearing loss and hearing conservation in mining. Journal of Occupational Medicine, Vol. 54 (5).

[5] Source: WSPS Publication – Agricultural Safety Topics – Protecting Against Noise

[6] Source: NIOSH Publication, “Promoting Hearing Health among Fire Fighters”

ISBN 978-1-4606-9207-3 (HTML)

Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.