Listen Up, Wood Industry: Québec Enforces Stricter Noise Standards for Workplace Safety

A recent update to noise prevention regulations in Québec is poised to reshape the landscape for employers in the secondary wood manufacturing industry. As of June 16, 2023, significant changes have taken effect, requiring employers to take comprehensive actions to identify, correct, and control noise exposure in the workplace. The amended Regulation respecting occupational health and safety (RROHS) introduces fresh obligations for employers in the sector, focusing on the elimination and reduction of noise at its source and the safeguarding of workers’ health.

Previously, employers were mandated to implement measures to prevent noise exposure, but the updated RROHS adds new dimensions to their responsibilities. Notably, employers must now identify potential noise exposure situations within their facilities that could surpass exposure limit values. Practical measures must then be devised to eliminate or mitigate noise at its origin, ensuring adherence to established standards and minimizing worker exposure.

This heightened obligation includes a one-year grace period starting from June 16, 2023, for conducting initial assessments, which will subsequently need to be repeated every five years. A noteworthy revision is the adjustment of the daily noise exposure limit value from 90dBa to 85dBA for an eight-hour workday.

The revised regulations emphasize the importance of employing reasonable means for noise reduction, with a focus on strategies such as source elimination or reduction, limit value compliance, and minimizing workers’ exposure. Employers have a one-year timeframe from the assessment to implement primary measures, with additional steps required if initial actions prove insufficient.

Further, employers must now ensure noise exposure measurement by a qualified individual either after implementing reasonable means or within 30 days of identifying such means. Measurement reports and associated information must be documented and preserved for a decade.

An additional requirement pertains to the use of hearing protectors; employers must provide theoretical and practical training covering proper selection, fitting, inspection, maintenance, and extended usage of hearing protectors.

These changes, driven by an imperative to protect workers from irreversible hearing damage, necessitate a comprehensive approach from employers. The regulations signify a shift towards proactive noise prevention strategies, encouraging the use of specialized services such as PRÉVIBOIS. This company offers industrial hygiene noise services, including comprehensive assessments and sound mapping, assisting wood industry employers in navigating the complexities of the new noise regulations.

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