When a noise hazard is present in the work environment, and when the hazard cannot be controlled by other means, hearing protection may be utilized. OSHA mandates that SMU establish and maintain a Hearing Conservation Program.
Occupational Noise Exposure
OSHA establishes two noise exposure thresholds, both expressed as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA). This means that the noise exposure is measured and averaged over 8 working hours. If employee noise exposure exceeds an 8-hour TWA of 85 dB, a full Hearing Conservation Program must be implemented. Further protections must be in place if employee exposure exceeds an 8-hour TWA of 90 dB.
Employees with occupational noise exposure that exceeds an 8-hour TWA of 85 dB will be provided with baseline and annual audiometric testing at no cost to the employee. This testing monitors an employee's hearing over time.
Employees with occupational noise exposure that exceeds an 8-hour TWA of 85 dB must complete annual Hearing Conservation training. This training covers 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 is available online via SafetySkills.
Personal Protective Equipment
SMU will provide hearing protection, such as ear plugs or ear muffs, to all employees with occupational noise exposure that exceeds an 8-hour TWA of 85 dB. Hearing protection is required if an employee has incurred a standard threshold shift (measured during audiometric testing) and/or if noise exposure exceeds an 8-hour TWA of 90 dB.
If you have any questions about this program, please contact Gloria Ruiz.