Environmental Health & Safety

Noise & Hearing Conservation

Hearing Conservation Program

Noise is defined as unwanted sound and exposure to loud and prolonged noise can damage hearing. Employees who work in areas where high noise levels (more than 85 decibels averaged over eight hours) exist must be enrolled in the Maryland Institute College of Art's Hearing Conservation Program. The purpose of the program is to prevent noise-induced hearing loss caused by exposure to these conditions.

Noise Standard

The permissible exposure limit for noise is an 8-hour time-weighted average (sound levels averaged over an 8 hour day) of 90 decibels (dB) and an action level of 85 dB. A healthy person exposed below these levels, day after day, is unlikely to experience noise-induced hearing loss.  The standard also states that no individual may be exposed to noise levels above 115 dB at any time.

Nuisance Noise

Noise levels below 85 dB (averaged over 8 hours) are considered nuisance noise. While nuisance noise does not generally cause injury directly, in some instances it may mask sounds indicative of other developing hazards and may be a source of annoyance. While EHS may take measurements or provide other consultative services in instances of nuisance noise, it is not the purpose of the Hearing Conservation Program to deal with such situations.


If you feel that your noise exposure may exceed any of these levels, contact EHS to conduct an evaluation.