Chapter 12: Hearing Conservation Program
It is the policy of The University of Mary Washington to institute an occupational hearing conservation program for our workers to prevent any temporary or permanent noise-induced hearing loss to employees, and to comply with the Federal OSHA standard 29 CFR 1926.52.
This written hearing conservation plan serves as a record of the details of the hearing conservation program in place at UMW. We have this program in place to protect the hearing of all employees and students. Elements of the hearing conservation program include:
- Audiometric testing program
- Hearing Protection
- Training and Information
OEMS has overall responsibility for coordinating health and safety programs at the University. The Director of OEMS will review and update the program, as necessary.
Copies of the written program may be obtained from OEMS located in Hamlet House.
The monitoring program is in place to provide an ongoing means of determining employee exposure to noise and protect employees based on excessive exposure.
When information indicates that any employee’s exposure may equal or exceed an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels, OEMS develops and implements an appropriate monitoring program to identify all employees for inclusion in the hearing conservation program and to select proper hearing protection.
To determine employee exposure to noise, we use multiple calibrated devices for measurement, in decibels. The University notifies all employees exposed at or above an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels of the results of the monitoring.
OEMS provides an opportunity for affected employees or their representatives to observe any noise measurements conducted. Selections for proper hearing devices for affected employees will be reviewed by OEMS and purchased by the University for distribution.
Monitoring is repeated whenever a change in processes, equipment, or controls increases noise exposures to the extent that either additional employees may be exposed at or above the action level, or the attenuation provided by hearing protectors being used by employees may be rendered inadequate to meet the requirements of noise reduction.
Audiometric Testing Program
The audiometric testing program is in place and available at no cost to all affected employees to ensure that noise exposures are kept at proper levels. The program ensures that a valid baseline audiogram is established for exposed employees within 6 months of their first exposure (or within one year if mobile vans are used, with employees wearing hearing protection for any period exceeding six months). Audiometric testing is repeated biannually (2 years)
If subsequent audiometric testing of an employee whose exposure to noise is less than an 8-hour (time weighted average) TWA of 90 decibels indicates that a standard threshold shift is not persistent, OEMS will inform the employee of the new audiometric interpretation, and discontinue the required use of hearing protectors for that employee. Voluntary use is always permitted.
The University of Mary Washington makes hearing protectors available to all employees at no cost to the employees. We ensure that employees have a variety of suitable protectors that attenuate (lower) employee exposure. The University has the following varieties of suitable hearing protection for employees to choose from:
- Softees (soft pliable, form fitting earplugs)
- Soft plugs on a head piece
- Muff Style
UMW OEMS ensures evaluation for adequacy of the hearing protection attenuation for the specific noise environments in which the protector will be used, according to manufacturers detailed specifications. OEMS reevaluates attenuation whenever employee noise exposures increase to the extent that current hearing protectors no longer provide adequate attenuation, and then provides more effective hearing protection.
Training and Information
UMW has a hearing protection training program for all employees exposed to noise at or above an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels. OEMS makes copies of the standard available to affected employees or their representatives. OEMS repeats the training program when needed, but at least annually. OEMS assures that the training material is updated and consistent with changes in the protective equipment and work processes.
All employees are informed of the following:
- The effects of noise on hearing
- The purpose of hearing protectors, the advantages, disadvantages, and attenuation of various types, and instructions on selection, fitting, use, and care
- The purpose of audiometric testing, and an explanation of test procedures
UMW OEMS makes informational materials pertaining to the Occupational Noise Exposure standard that are supplied by OSHA available to affected employees or their representatives.
Record-keeping is an essential element of the hearing conservation program, since it is how hearing levels are tracked and assessed over a period of years. OEMS has in place a series of measures to maintain comprehensive and up-to-date records.
UMW OEMS maintains and retains accurate records of:
- All employee exposure measurements required by the monitoring program of this regulation
- Accurate records of all employee audiometric test records obtained pursuant to paragraph (g) of 1910.95
- Retains noise exposure measurement records for two years
- Audiometric test records for the duration of the affected employee’s employment plus 30 years
UMW provides access of records to employees, former employees, representatives designated by the individual employee, and OSHA, upon request.