The workplace is one of the most common places people will be exposed to harmful levels of noise, putting them at risk for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), which is permanent and often progressive. If your company performs manufacturing, construction or mining activities, noise is going to be an issue that needs to be addressed.
According to OSHA’s standards, employers must implement a hearing conservation program “when noise exposure is at or above 85 decibels averaged over 8 working hours, or an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA).” These programs “strive to prevent initial occupational hearing loss, preserve and protect remaining hearing, and equip workers with the knowledge and hearing protection devices necessary to safeguard themselves.”
A hearing conservation program should include employers developing and carrying out plans that reduce noise in the work environment and providing equipment and materials that help workers protect themselves. Some things to keep in mind while developing a hearing conservation program include:
• Measurement of sound levels in the workplace
• Reducing noise through both engineering controls (making changes to equipment or the surrounding area) and administrative controls (making adjustments to the work schedule or workplace)
• Yearly training programs about hearing protection, as well as informing new employees of noise-induced hearing loss and other risks that occur due to noise exposure
• Within six months of employment, employees who are exposed to loud noises should be given a free baseline audiogram – and then a yearly free audiogram to compare any hearing issues
• Provide a variety of hearing protection options to those employees exposed to hearing hazards, including lower-noise power tools and ear protection, such as earplugs and earmuffs
• Records kept of employees’ varying noise exposure levels
The cost impact of a hearing conservation program can be minimized with an accurate noise survey. At Workplace Safety & Health Inc, we use top quality sound level meters and noise dosimeters to help you identify only those employees that need to be included in the program and determine if the initial cost of engineering controls is a sound investment over the on-going costs of a hearing conservation program management. We have the expertise to help you make sound decisions for noise measurement and control – 317-253-9737.