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Develop a hearing conservation program
  • A hearing conservation program must include monitoring, testing, employee training, provided hearing protection, and recordkeeping.

An effective hearing conservation program can prevent hearing loss, improve employee morale and a general feeling of well-being, increase quality of production, and reduce the incidence of stress-related disease. Employers must administer a continuing, effective hearing conservation program whenever employee noise exposures are at or above an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA) of 85 decibels or, equivalently, a dose of 50 percent. This is referred to as the action level.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s noise standard (1910.95) contains two noise exposure limit tables. Each table serves a different purpose:

  • Table G-16: This table applies to the engineering and administrative controls section, which provides a 90-decibels criterion for an eight-hour TWA permissible exposure limit and is measured using a 90-decibels threshold (i.e., noise below 90 decibels is not integrated into the TWA). This table limits short-term noise exposure to a level not greater than 115 decibels (for up to 15 minutes).
  • Table G-16A: This table, presented in Appendix A of 1910.95, provides information (e.g., reference durations) useful for calculating TWA exposures when the work shift noise exposure is composed of two or more periods of noise at different levels. Although this table lists noise levels exceeding 115 decibels, these listings are only intended as aids in calculating TWA exposure levels; the listings for higher noise exposure levels do not imply that these noise levels are acceptable.

Minimum requirements of a hearing conservation program include:

  • Monitoring program
  • Audiometric testing program
  • Hearing protection devices
  • Employee training
  • Recordkeeping