The 85-3 Coalition is taking steps to improve hearing safety for workers, through the 85-3 Coalition Campaign. The Coalition will be working to make the 85 dBA (decibel) noise protection level the nationwide standard for hearing protection.


The 85-3 Coalition Campaign will focus on updating legislation to lower the PEL for hazardous occupational noise to 85 dBA and the exchange rate to 3 dBA, and recognizing organizations and employers that have adopted the 85-3 standard and encouraging others to adopt it.

The 85-3 Coalition is seeking companies and organizations that subscribe to the 85-3 standard and are willing to lend their names in support of the effort. The 85-3 standard refers to the 85-dBA exposure limit for an 8-hour day measured with a 3-dBA exchange rate for controlling noise exposures in the workplace.


  • American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA)
  • American Academy of Audiology (AAA)
  • North American Building Trades’ Union (NABTU)
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
  • National Safety Council (NSC)


Current occupational hearing protection standards set the PEL for hazardous occupational noise at 90 dBA and the exchange rate at 5 dBA. The exchange rate is a factor used to determine how long a person can safely work in a high-noise environment. We recommend introducing updated legislation to lower the PEL for hazardous noise to 85 dBA and the exchange rate to 3dBA.

Hearing protection use at 85 dBA will better protect a worker’s hearing. It will have a positive effect on worker safety, enhance the quality of life, and allow for longer careers at work, along with the additional benefit of lowering the economic strain of costs associated with treating hearing loss.