- Risks of ignoring occupational-hearing conservation
- Benefits of occupational-hearing conservation
- Rule-of-Thumb Test
- Action plan for occupational-hearing success
Hearing-loss prevention is the law.
"OSHA requires employers to 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). Hearing conservation 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." —OSHA
OSHA Region 5 (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, and WI) is rich in manufacturing and often targeted for OSHA inspections. The unsafe noise created by many manufacturing processes creates above-average rates of hearing loss when employees work without hearing protection.
OSHA reviews companies when it receives employee complaints about hearing loss, high noise, and lack of hearing protection. It also inspects companies randomly.
Working in high-noise workplaces with unprotected hearing, employees experience increased risk of
If employees can’t hear well, they are unsafe in noisy worksites (hard to hear warning signals), dangerous to colleagues, and less productive.
As a result employers risk more worker-compensation claims and personal-injury lawsuits (which settle for $100,000-$500,000 typically).
Without a program of occupational-hearing conservation (OHC), companies often pay higher premiums for worker-compensation insurance.
Why would any company position themselves to be less competitive?
High workplace noise is a health hazard that negatively influences employee attitudes about their work and their employers. It also weakens the recruitment and retention of employees.
The quality of work declines too. Working without without hearing protection in high-noise worksites. reduces focus and creates more fatigue.
With OHC, productivity increases and so does the satisfaction employees experience from their work.
OHC increases competitiveness.
I have had the privilege of working with the Sertoma Speech & Hearing Center team since scheduling our annual industrial hearing tests in June, 2010. All team members are personable and professional. Services provided are of the highest quality always to the current OSHA Standards at the time of testing. Communication is on the same level before, during & after testing. Highly recommended.
—Bar Processing Corporation, Chicago Heights, IL
When employee noise exposures equal or exceed 85 decibels, OSHA Regulation 1910.95(c) requires employers to administer, “a continuing, effective hearing-conservation program.”
OSHA's program protects workers with significant occupational noise exposures from hearing impairment even if they are subject to such noise exposures over their entire working lifetimes.
Why do we continue to use Sertoma Speech and Hearing after all these years? The convenience of their mobile testing unit; they bring the test to us and that is one less thing that we have to worry about when it comes to staying in compliance. For a small company that's priceless.
—Raco Steel Company, Markham, IL
For an occupational-hearing-conservation program to be effective, OSHA requires five program elements — the ones we implement and manage for our clients.
OSHA Regulation 1910.95(d)
The hearing conservation program requires employers to monitor noise exposure levels in a way that accurately identifies employees exposed to noise at or above 85 decibels (dB) averaged over 8 working hours, or an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA). For more information
OSHA Regulation 1910.95(g)
Audiometric testing monitors an employee's hearing over time. It also provides an opportunity for employers to educate employees about their hearing and the need to protect it.
The employer must establish and maintain an audiometric testing program. The important elements of the program include baseline audiograms, annual audiograms, training, and followup procedures. Employers must make audiometric testing available at no cost to all employees who are exposed to an action level of 85 dB or above, measured as an 8-hour TWA. For more information
OSHA Regulation 1910.95(i)
Employers must provide employees with a selection of at least one variety of hearing plug and one variety of hearing muff. Employees should decide, with the help of a person trained to fit hearing protectors, which size and type protector is most suitable for the working environment. The protector selected should be comfortable to wear and offer sufficient protection to prevent hearing loss. For more information
OSHA Regulation 1910.95(k)
Employee training is very important. Workers who understand the reasons for the hearing conservation programs and the need to protect their hearing will be more motivated to wear their protectors and take audiometric tests. Employers must train employees exposed to TWAs of 85 dB and above at least annually in the effects of noise; the purpose, advantages, and disadvantages of various types of hearing protectors; the selection, fit, and care of protectors; and the purpose and procedures of audiometric testing. The training program may be structured in any format, with different portions conducted by different individuals and at different times, as long as the required topics are covered. For more information
OSHA Regulation 1910.95(m)
Employers must keep noise exposure measurement records for 2 years and maintain records of audiometric test results for the duration of the affected employee's employment. Audiometric test records must include the employee's name and job classification, date, examiner's name, date of the last acoustic or exhaustive calibration, measurements of the background sound pressure levels in audiometric test rooms, and the employee's most recent noise exposure measurement. For more information
We have been using Sertoma Speech & Hearing Centers as our go-to for our annual Hearing Conservation testing because Dolores makes the experience quick, easy, and issue free. We have had nothing but positive experience with Sertoma and look forward to working them next year!
—Plastipak, Alsip, IL
Dolores has deep experience implementing and managing occupational-hearing programs. Clients praise her for making occupational hearing an enjoyable experience for management and employees. Contact Dolores for pricing, scheduling, and answers to your questions.
Dolores Leider, COHC | Email | 708–761–6687
Worksites in which noise levels (intermittent or sustained) reach or exceed 85 decibels must protect their employees hearing or risk citations and fines.
To follow OSHA noise regulations, companies must implement OSHA's five hearing-conservation program elements.