OSHA Hearing Conservation Requirements
In the workplace, employees are exposed to a wide variety of noise levels. Noise exposure above a certain level damages hearing. Noise induced hearing loss can have profound effects on an individual, limiting their ability to hear certain frequencies, understand speech and can seriously impair their ability to communicate.
OSHA’s occupational noise exposure regulations, 29 CFR 1910.95 for general industry and 29 CFR 1926.52 and 1926.101 for construction, require employers to protect their employees against the effects of noise exposure. OSHA uses two different noise exposure level criteria. The first is the action level (AL) at 85-dBA on an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) or equivalently a 50 percent dose. The second is the permissible exposure limit (PEL) which can be found on Table G-16 (replicated below).
Table G-16: Permissible Noise Exposure Limit
|Duration per Day, Hours||Sound Level, dBA, Slow Response|
|¼ or less||115|
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. [email protected] or 970-372-1131.
Step 1: Identify Noise Sources
Use a type 2 sound level meter set to “slow response”, “A-weighted scale”. If you use a smartphone application to do this, keep in mind that this is not a type 2 sound level meter and it does not meet the minimum OSHA requirements. However, it will give you an idea of the noise levels.
Step 2: Complete Personal Noise Dosimetery
If the sound levels exceed those shown in Table G-16, provide appropriate noise controls and hearing protection. Additionally, if the results indicate that the employee noise exposures are equal to or exceed the AL, a hearing conservation program and employee training are required.
For OSHA compliance, only ANSI approved Type 1 or Type 2 sound level meters and may be used. Other sound level meters such as phone apps may be used as a pre-screening tool, however you may not use them to document OSHA compliance.
Step 3: Implement Noise Exposure Controls
Engineering and administrative controls are technologically feasible for most noise sources, but their economic feasibility should be determined on a case by case basis. In some instances, the application of a relatively simple noise-control solution can reduce the hazard to the extent that a hearing conservation program is no longer necessary. For example, if the noise involves the release of compressed air, a simple solution is to equip all compressed air sources with silencers; these devices are readily available and control noise much like a car muffler.
Step 4: Develop a Written Hearing Conservation Program
Anfeald can help you develop a hearing conservation written program. For more information please call us at 970.372.1131 or e-mail us at [email protected]
Step 5: Complete Baseline and Annual Hearing Tests
OSHA requires you to obtain a new audiogram every year for as long as the employee is exposed to noise levels at or above the AL. Compare the annual audiogram to the baseline audiogram to determine if the audiogram is valid and if there has been a standard threshold shift (STS).
Anfeald provides initial and annual hearing tests. For more information reference our hearing tests page.
Step 6: Evaluate Annual Hearing Tests
Step 7: Provide Hearing Protectors
Hearing protectors must sufficiently attenuate the specific noise environment in which the protector will be used. At a minimum hearing protectors must attenuate to 90 dB and if the employee has had a previous STS they must attenuate to 85 dB.
Step 8: Train Employees
Step 9: Maintain Records
Hearing Conservation Services by Anfeald
Anfeald helps clients with all of the following services:
- Written Hearing Conservation Plans
- Noise Mapping
- Noise Dosimetry/Personal Monitoring
- Hearing Tests
- Custom-fit E.A.R. Plugs
- Hearing Conservation Training for Employees
- Onsite/mobile services available
Check out our hearing conservation FAQ for more information. Reach out to us when you are ready to talk. We can help!
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