Summary Statement

A handout describing the impact of noise on hearing, sources of noise in roadwork and ways to lessen the noise. Part of a collection. Click on the 'collection' button to access the other items.

This document is one in a program produced under an OSHA grant by a consortium of the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund N.A, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the American Road and Transportation Builders Assn, and the National Asphalt Pavement Assn. All of the documents from this set that are on eLCOSH can be found by clicking on Job Site, Heavy construction, and scrolling to the Street & highway heading. Or to download a complete version of the computerized program, go to

Is Too Much Noise a Serious Problem?
You can lose your hearing. You can lose your life.

On the job
  • Noise can distract you, you may not hear warnings
  • Noise damages the nerves in the inner ear, they cannot be repaired
After 15 to 20 years in the trade
  • You may suffer permanent hearing loss
  • You may suffer constant ringing (tinnitus)
If you suffer hearing loss
  • You cannot hear well, especially when there is background noise
  • It can affect your family and personal life

What Noise Sources Are Most Common?
There are many noise sources in road work.

Some of the most common sources are
  • Heavy equipment
  • Pile driving
  • Pavement breakers
  • Traffic
  • Compressors
Could Road Work Be Less Noisy?
Yes. There are efforts to make it quieter.

Noise levels can be reduced by
  • Buying/renting quieter equipment
  • Keeping equipment well maintained
  • Move noisy equipment away
  • Sound barriers around equipment

How Do We Protect Our Hearing Now?

Wear hearing protection.

If you must shout to talk with someone 3 feet away, you need protection from noise
  • Use hearing protectors provided by your employer
  • Notify employer if proper hearing protection is not available
  • Make sure hearing protection fits and is comfortable
  • Follow instructions for proper hearing protection use
  • Get a hearing test about once a year so you'll know your hearing protection is working