Maximum SPL Listening Levels and Time Limits

FAQ #4869 Updated August 29, 2017


Please provide the OHSA recommended limits on Sound Pressure Level and Maximum Time Limits.


March 2016

Recommended safe listening levels and maximum time limits according to the U.S. Federal Goverment - Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA)

90 dB SPL - 8 hours
92 dB SPL - 6 hours
95 dB SPL - 4 hours
97 dB SPL - 3 hours

100 dB SPL - 2 hours
102 dB SPL - 1.5 hours
105 dB SPL - 1 hour

110 dB SPL - 30 minutes
115 dB SPL - 15 minutes

116 dB SPL and above - 0 minutes

After years of data gathering based on the OSHA standard, 20% of people still suffered some hearing loss. There is a movement to adopt the NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) standard, which puts the maximum exposure level for an 8 hour day at 85 dB SPL (A-weighted), and cuts the exposure time in half for every 3 dB increase; 88 dB = 4 hours, 91 dB = 2 hours, etc. Following the NIOSH standard reduced the percentage of people suffering hearing loss to 3% or 4%. Individual physiology also plays a part.

Always a regular hearing exam. If one follows the OSHA standard some hearing loss is noticed, then consider the NIOSH standard.

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