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June 18, 2007

Ontario for the prevention of hearing loss at the workplace

Exposure to excessive noise in the workplace frequently leads to permanent occupational disability. A government initiative in Ontario, Canada, aims to prevent hearing loss among workers in noisy workplaces and reduce compensation costs.

Noise induced hearing loss affect workers worldwide. In Europe, 6 million German workers are affected by dangerous noise levels, and 38 percent of all work-related injuries in Austria are noise induced hearing loss.

According to the Canadian Hearing Society, 35 percent of the workers in Canadian heavy industries are exposed to dangerous noise levels. The estimated burden in compensation cost reached about Can$100 million in Ontario, from 1995 to 2004.

The Ontario government is focusing on improving the workplace health and safety in such sectors as offshore oil and gas operators. The maximum noise exposure will be lowered to 85 dB, instead of the previous 90 dB limit. And time-weighted average exposures will be accurately determined during a working day.

Increased enforcement

Enforcement of the new standard will be supported by more than 200 newly hired health and safety inspectors. Special attention will be given to companies which have produced unsatisfactory records on health and safety and/or high costs to the Canadian insurance board.

The new regulations will come into effect in July 2007.

Sources: www.cnw.ca, January 2, 2007 and the Canadian Hearing Society.

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