OSHA Hearing Standard
Complying with OSHA’S Hearing Conservation Amendment CFR 1910.95
FAQ – OSHA Hearing Standard
Assess Risk of Exposure
ASSESS RISK OF EXPOSURE – Noise exposure monitoring, or noise measurement, is required to determine which workers are at risk for exposure to noise. It is important that monitoring take into account anything the worker may do during the workday that could contribute to his/her overall noise level. OSHA bases all further hearing conservation decisions on the results of monitoring, including the requirements to have a hearing conservation program (HCP) in order to meet the OSHA hearing standard 1910.95.
Do I need a Hearing Conservation Program?
If you have asked yourself this question, the answer is probably yes! There are a couple ways you can test for yourself whether a hearing conservation program (HCP) is required in your facility.
- Do workers in your facility have to raise their voice to be heard by a listener about 3 feet away?
- Do workers in your facility ever report ringing in their ears after they leave work?
- Does the radio in your car seem quieter when you leave work – like someone turned it down during the day? Or conversely, does your radio seem too loud when you get in the car in the morning?
These are all indications of exposure to sound levels about 85 dBA, the level at which OSHA requires an “effective, on-going hearing conservation program.”
Workers must be enrolled in a Hearing Conservation Program (HCP), at no cost to them, when:
- their noise exposure is 85 dBA* (action level) or greater averaged over an 8-hour workday (TWA)
- the maximum sound level is 115 dBA* or greater
- peak (impact) noise levels are 140 dBA* or greater
- The allowable exposure for longer shifts may be lower, and can be calculated from Table G16a in the Hearing Conservation Amendment
- Repeat noise monitoring when production conditions change (new equipment or changes in production that affect noise levels) or when additional employees may be at risk of exposure at or above the action level. Workers must be provided with the results of monitoring studies, and must be able to observe monitoring if they desire.
Audiometric Hearing Testing
TEST HEARING – Part of the HCP is an annual assessment of hearing called audiogram. Each worker in the HCP must get an original audiogram, called a baseline, within six months of starting work in an HCP area to determine how well he/she hears before they are exposed to noise by this employer.
The worker muse be noise-free for 14 hours prior to getting the baseline test to make sure the test is an accurate assessment of his/her hearing. The audiogram is then repeated yearly, with the most recent test results compared to the baseline to check for changes.