MISSISSAUGA, Ont.—Rules for protecting employees from losing their hearing on the job vary from province to province but the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) is hoping that will soon change.
The organization is set to release Z1007, a new standard for the “Management of Occupational Hearing Loss Programs,” later this year with the goal of having it adopted by legislators nation-wide.
Z1007 will bring together all the current CSA standards related to hearing loss prevention and noise management, and will be targeted to non-professional hearing loss program prevention managers.
“The idea is to make them knowledgeable managers of hearing loss prevention programs,” explained Jeffrey Goldberg, chair of the technical committee, on May 1 at Partners in Prevention, an occupational health and safety conference.
“The standard tells the non-professional they need to do a noise survey,” he noted. “It doesn’t necessarily tell them how to do it; it tells them how to know they’re getting an effective one from a service provider that is going to do it for them.”
After Z1007 is unveiled, it will be the first standards document to explain a hearing loss prevention program in total, he said.
National adoption will allow comparison of performance across plants and jurisdictions.
“For Z1007 to have any real effect it must be referenced in legislation,” he explained.
It will also enable companies operating in multiple areas to form consistent prevention plans.
“Until we have national standards, how can we expect companies operating in multiple jurisdictions to use standardized programs?”
Goldberg cautions Z1007 is a consensus standard and won’t necessarily be a compilation of best practices.
“It must reflect incremental, not monumental change. If the gap is too great, they just can’t do it. It would be politically unacceptable,” he said.
Right now the action level at which hearing conservation activity is required ranges from 82 decibels (dB) to 90 dB in Canada. Best practices set action level at 80 dB.
“How can you ask a jurisdiction that has an action level of 90 dB to drop it 10 per cent? There would be a rebellion by manufacturers on that site,” he explained.
Goldberg said the standard won’t prevent occupational hearing loss unless it’s taken seriously by workers as well as employers.
“Unless you take responsibility protecting your hearing, there’s nothing your company can do to protect it for you,” he concluded.