BITCO Insurance Companies

Prevention through Design: NIOSH Issues Report on Preventing Hazardous Noise and Hearing Loss

Release Date: January 14, 2016

Prevention through Design (PtD) can be defined as designing out or eliminating safety and health hazards associated with processes, structures, equipment, tools, or work organization. In 2007, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) launched a PtD initiative, and the recent 2016 publication Preventing Hazardous Noise and Hearing Loss during Project Design and Operation is its latest effort to promote PtD to eliminate or control occupational noise exposures.

The report emphasizes that the best way to reduce noise exposure and resulting hearing loss is to address noise at the source by considering PtD principles. “Engineering out” hazardous noise found in the workplace before the exposure occurs (e.g., by installing quieter equipment or building an acoustic barrier) is the most effective way to reduce noise levels in the workplace and takes precedence over the use of hearing protection, which is the least desirable control method. PtD noise reduction measures can protect worker hearing, lower workers’ compensation costs, improve productivity, and eliminate the need to retrofit equipment.

Three case studies are included in the report, illustrating the use of PtD concepts to control noise associated with the use of compressed air, air-rotary drilling rigs, and continuous mining machines:

NIOSH recommends the following PtD concepts for noise control at each stage of the design process:

Integrating PtD concepts into business processes helps reduce injury and illness in the workplace, as well as costs associated with injuries. PtD lays the foundation for a sustainable culture of safety with lower workers’ compensation expenses, fewer retrofits, and improved productivity. When PtD concepts are introduced early in the design process, resources can be allocated more efficiently.

Preventing Hazardous Noise and Hearing Loss during Project Design and Operation can be accessed at In addition, see the NIOSH PtD website at and the NIOSH noise control website at

COPYRIGHT ©2016, ISO Services, Inc.

The information contained in this publication was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. ISO Services, Inc., its companies and employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with either the information herein contained or the safety suggestions herein made. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that every acceptable safety procedure is contained herein or that abnormal or unusual circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional procedure.

COPYRIGHT ©2016, ISO Services, Inc.