Ontario Government Moves To Protect Industrial Workers From Hearing Loss

Archived Release

Ontario Government Moves To Protect Industrial Workers From Hearing Loss

Stronger Regulations Introduced For High-Noise Workplaces QUEEN'S PARK, ON, Jan. 2 - The McGuinty government is further protecting the health and safety of Ontario workers by protecting industrial workers from hearing loss, Minister of Labour Steve Peters announced today. "Noise-induced hearing loss is a serious and preventable occupational illness that impacts many of Ontario's industrial workers," said Peters. "Our government is taking action to protect these workers by making the first significant overhaul of the noise exposure limits in 30 years." Lower overall daily exposure to noise will help prevent hearing loss in workers, which led to an estimated $100 million in compensation costs being paid out by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) over the past decade. The changes to the industrial noise requirements will come into effect on July 1, 2007. They are expected to strengthen worker safety by: - Reducing Ontario's noise exposure limit from 90 dBA to 85 dBA, and - Introducing it as a time-weighted average exposure limit, which gives a more accurate assessment of the amount of noise a worker is exposed to over an eight hour period Contact Info The new requirements are part of the Ontario government's ongoing improvements to workplace health and safety. These include hiring 200 new health and safety inspectors; targeting workplaces with poor health and safety performance records and high costs to the WSIB; and putting in place a new annual process to update occupational exposure limits for the over 700 hazardous substances covered by Ontario regulation. "Our government is committed to ensuring that the health and safety of every worker is never compromised," said Peters. "These changes have been carefully developed in consultation with employers and labour, who support this action." Disponible en français www.labour.gov.on.ca Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- INDUSTRIAL NOISE EXPOSURE LIMITS The Ontario Government is strengthening protection for industrial workers who are exposed to high levels of noise. Hearing loss, due to exposure to high levels of noise in the workplace, is a serious occupational illness. According to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), it resulted in an estimated $100 million in compensation costs being paid between 1995 and 2004. What is changing? Currently, the Regulations for Industrial Establishments and for Offshore Oil and Gas Operators allow workers to be exposed to up to 90 decibels of noise for an eight-hour period. The new regulations will lower the allowable limit to 85 decibels. It will also introduce a new time-weighted averaging method that will provide a more accurate way of determining the actual amount of noise a worker is exposed to. This is the first time these noise regulations have been significantly updated since they were introduced 30 years ago. Who is covered by this? All workplaces in Ontario covered by the Regulations for Industrial Establishments and the Regulations for Offshore Oil and Gas Operators will be covered by the new noise exposure limit. While other sectors, such as the mining and construction sectors, do not have set noise exposure limits, the Occupational Health and Safety Act still requires employers in these workplaces to take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of these workers. This includes situations where they are exposed to high levels of noise. Were consultations with interested parties held? Consultations were held in the winter of 2005 - 2006. The noise consultation stakeholders included: - Industry associations - Labour organizations including relevant unions - Health and safety partners including hearing associations - Media - general and industry-specific - MOL enforcement team members The Canadian Hearing Association was also consulted and is supportive of the changes being made. When does this new exposure limit come into effect? The new exposure limit will come into effect on July 1, 2007. This will allow workplaces enough time to come into compliance with the new noise exposure limit. Disponible en français www.labour.gov.on.ca /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca. Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited members of the media/ For further information: Media Contacts: Susan McConnell, Minister's Office, (416) 326-7710; Belinda Sutton, Ministry of Labour, (416) 326-7405 HELP | CONTACT US | PRIVACY | IMPORTANT NOTICES © Queen's Printer for Ontario, 2008-2009 — Last Modified: February 15, 2009 For further information: Media Contacts: Susan McConnell, Minister's Office, (416) 326-7710; Belinda Sutton, Ministry of Labour, (416) 326-7405