Maximum SPL Listening Levels and Time Limits

FAQ #4869 Updated August 29, 2017

Question:

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

Answer:

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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