Do you have high-intensity noise in your workplace? If so, you’re probably affected by the new regulations coming into force this month. To help you comply, we present an overview of the changes and the CNESST resources available.
The new regulations come into force on June 16, 2023. It will affect all workplaces in Quebec and will have a significant impact on the responsibilities of employers and workers alike.
In concrete terms, employers’ obligations begin this month. It’s a preventive approach involving the performance of the following activities every 5 years:
- Identify work situations at risk of exceeding exposure limit values;
- Identify reasonable means of reducing noise exposure;
- Deploy these reasonable means in the plant.
The exposure limit value (ELV) has been reduced from 90 dBA to 85 dBA on average for an 8-hour daily exposure. If the standard is exceeded, hearing protectors must be worn by exposed workers.
AM I AT RISK OF EXCEEDING THE ELV?
The first step is to determine whether you are at risk of exceeding this value. To do this, the CNESST has developed easy-to-use validation tools available on its noise web page.
There’s a voice test that can be used to validate whether you’re at risk of exceeding the limit. Quite simply, you have to position yourself 1 meter away from another person in your work environment, and if you have to raise your voice or shout to be heard, you are in an environment likely to have situations where your voice is overheard. In this case, you’ll need to take the 5-year prevention approach.
Detailed explanations of the voice test can be found on the CNESST website.
The CNESST has developed 2 guides to support you in your prevention efforts related to these regulations.
- Managing the risks associated with exposure to noise in the workplace – A guide to reducing worker exposure.
- Managing the risks associated with exposure to noise in the workplace – A Guide to the selection and use of hearing protectors.
If you find that you have situations where there is a risk of overshooting, you need to work on 2 areas:
- The obligation to wear hearing protectors. This obligation requires workers to be supervised. They must be trained in hearing protection, including the following elements: choice, fitting, maintenance and use of hearing protectors must be covered in the training. This obligation is essential during the noise reduction work that needs to be undertaken now. Please note that it is also compulsory to display a poster advising that hearing protection must be worn in an area (RROHS art. 141.3). You can order this sticker free of charge in the Posters and stickers section.
- Noise reduction in the workplace.
The subject has also been addressed by the health and safety committees at the Group’s various sites. To follow suit, they presented a noise action plan to the management committee in autumn 2022, which was approved. This action plan takes into account the different stages of the regulations and will be deployed at all dealerships in the same way and with the same rigor. In short, initiating a preventive approach to noise is an entirely feasible challenge.
The important thing is not necessarily to meet the requirements of the standard, but rather to take a documented approach to reducing the noise level in your working environment. Then, whatever the means used to achieve it; everyone can benefit from a quieter workplace.
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