The Noise Level Of Power Tools

What Is The Noise Level Of Power Tools?


We all know that power tools are loud and can disrupt peace and quiet, but did you know that many power tools have sound decibels that could actually harm your hearing? It is a big reason why people who work in construction or in manufacturing plants are required to wear ear plugs to protect their hearing. If ear plugs are optional and not required, they run the risk of losing some of their hearing if they choose not to wear the ear plugs.

Ear plugs aside, you are probably wondering just how loud some power tools really are. Each class of power tool and brand of power tool may have a different decibel level, although certain brands of tools under any one class are often within a few decibels of each other. For example, drills, regardless of brand name, fall somewhere between 87 and 94 decibels. Here are some other common power tools, their decibel levels, and a look at how loud they are in comparison to safety ratings for noise.

What the CDC Has to Say About Noise

The Centers for Disease Control not only track diseases, but also track what causes many other medical and health problems, including hearing loss. Their website page on hearing loss says that any machine at 80 decibels and above can cause hearing loss. In the case of 80 decibels, you have to be exposed to ongoing sound for two hours before hearing loss begins.

At 95 decibels, it only takes 50 minutes of exposure time to damage your hearing. At 100 decibels, fifteen minutes of constant exposure is all that is needed. At 110 decibels, hearing loss occurs after two minutes of exposure time. Anything louder than that and you experience intense physical pain and major injury to your ears and hearing.

Let that marinate for a bit before reading about the decibel levels of other power tools. You already know that a drill is around 87-94 decibels, which is within the fifty-minute to two-hour range for hearing loss. Most people don’t use a drill continuously for that long, but other power tools are much louder and people use them for longer than ten minutes at a time.

Sound Levels of Other Power Tools

This list of ten tools with their sound decibel ranges will help you figure out which power tools can be the most damaging to your hearing.

  • Reciprocating Saw, 96-112 dcb
  • Jig Saw, 92-102 dcb
  • Circular Saw, 95-113 dcb
  • Grinder, 91-107
  • Orbital Sander, 74-97 dcb
  • Belt Sander, 97-102 dcb

As you can see from the above short list, the most dangerous power tools are the saws. That isn’t surprising, given the power necessary to cut through wood, plastics and/or metal. If you spend a large part of your work day or a large part of your time in your hobby workshop using these saws, you might find yourself going deaf very quickly. The sanders are not as bad, although you still should not spend copious amounts of time with your ears uncovered or unplugged while you are using them.

Industrial Power Tools

Bear in mind that the aforementioned and listed power tools are your run-of-the-mill construction tools. These are not the power tools typically used in manufacturing. Industrial power tools and tool machines are even louder and more of a sound hazard to your hearing’s health than the tools you use to construct a bird feeder or patch your roof.

A sound database compiling the decibel levels of over 1,700 sounds from a whisper to a jet taking off at supersonic speed is located online. It is the “Noise Navigator” database. It can show you the dcb (or decibels) of literally every known sound on the planet. If you scroll through it long enough you will see how industrial sounds compare to common power tools.

The Takeaway Here

Your hearing is precious. You will already lose some of your hearing gradually with age, with most people unable to hear certain low frequencies of sound once they turn 30. After sixty, your regular hearing begins to slowly fade too. You can protect your hearing and slow the process, but only if you avoid a lot of loud noise.

If you use tools or industrial machines daily in your line of work, your employer should have a hearing protection and hearing loss prevention plan. Follow the plan to protect your hearing. If your employer doesn’t have this plan, bring your own hearing safety devices to work with you. According to OSHA standards, all employees exposed to loud noises in the workplace are entitled to have their hearing protected and they are in their rights to request hearing protection from their employers.