Occupational hearing loss is preventable and hearing conservation programs work. According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least 22 million workers are exposed to damaging noise levels at work. Exposure to loud noise can kill the nerve endings in the inner ear and over time can result in permanent hearing loss. Hearing loss due to work hazards is known as occupational hearing loss. The good news is this type of hearing loss is 100 % preventable. To help prevent occupational hearing loss, OSHA requires employers to implement a hearing conservation program whenever noise exposure is at or above 85 decibels averaged over 8 working hours, or an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA). While many industries have a noisy work environment, some industries have an increased risk of exposure to dangerous noise levels.
Industries with an increased risk of excessive noise exposure include:
- Entertainment/Music: noise from instruments, concerts, loudspeakers, and equipment
- Airline: ground maintenance workers are particularly at risk
- Farming/Agriculture: noise from tractors, power tools, and machinery
- Mining: noise from drills, excavating, blasting, and operating plants
- Manufacturing: noise from machines
- Sports venue: whistles and cheering
- Construction: noise from power tools and manual tools
- Carpentry: noise from power tools and other tools
- Military: noise from live fire, explosions, and aircraft noise
In workplaces where excessive noise is present, employers are responsible to monitor the level of noise exposure in the workplace, provide training and free hearing protection, conduct regular evaluations of the adequacy of the hearing protections in use, and provide annual hearing exams. One of the most important components of protecting workers is training. Even workplaces that do not have dangerously high levels of noise can put workers at risk if there is a loud (but not classified as dangerous) noise that continues for long periods of time. Employees must be aware of all the risks at their workplace so they are equipped to protect themselves at work.
The NIOSH Sound Level Meter (SLM) app is a helpful tool for monitoring noise exposure. It was developed by experienced acoustics engineers and hearing loss experts and is available to the public from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The NIOSH Sound Level Meter (SLM) app was developed to help workers make informed decisions about their noise environment and promote better hearing health and prevention efforts.
Protecting workers’ health and safety should be a top priority for all employers. Hearing conservation programs have several goals which include preventing initial occupational hearing loss, preserving and protecting remaining hearing, and equipping workers with the knowledge and hearing protection devices necessary to safeguard themselves. At National Safety Compliance our Hearing Conservation Training Course has been updated for 2023, it will help you prepare your employees to protect their hearing in any work environment.
Hearing conservation course topics include:
- The Ear
- Hearing loss
- Types of Hearing Loss
- Effects of Excessive Noise Exposure
- Evaluating Noise Exposure Levels
- Hearing Conservation Program
- Hearing Protection
A top priority for hearing conservation programs is reducing the amount of exposure to noise. Thankfully, there are several ways to control and reduce workers’ excessive noise exposure in the workplace. First, engineering controls involve modifying or replacing equipment or making related physical changes at the noise source or along the transmission path to reduce the noise level at the worker’s ear. Next, administrative controls are changes in the workplace or schedule that reduce or eliminate the worker’s exposure to noise. Finally, personal hearing protection devices that are provided to employees free of charge significantly reduce exposure to harmful levels of noise.
Our Hearing Conservation Training Course trains workers in the OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.95 & 1926.52 & .101. Employees who take this course will understand the importance of a hearing conservation plan and should be able to apply its standards to workplace hazards and situations. Employers who take this course will have a better understanding of how to develop a training plan and what steps should be taken to protect their workers’ hearing. This training is also an excellent resource to train the trainer.