35.53 - Hearing Conservation Program

Last updated August 18, 2005

A. General. To prevent university personnel from experiencing hearing loss due to hazardous noise exposure, the university has developed a Hearing Conservation Program (HCP). The program includes noise level monitoring, annual audiometric testing, and initial training and annual refresher training in hearing conservation issues and practices. Annual audiometric testing and training is available to all university personnel who, as a part of their duties at the university, may be exposed to a time weighted average of 85 decibels and above for an eight hour work day.

A-1. Regulatory Requirements. The HCP is based on information found in the Idaho General Safety and Health Standards, Section 160 and in Title 29, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1910.95.

B. Process. Supervisors who believe that their employees or students are being exposed to noise levels at or above 85 decibels can request a survey by Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) personnel to assess noise exposures in their workplace. If survey results indicate that hazardous noise levels exist in the workplace, then engineering controls, administrative controls or hearing devices will be employed.

B-1. Hearing Protection. Employees or students who work in areas that have hazardous noise levels will receive hearing protection devices, training in hearing conservation and the use of hearing protection devices, as well as audiometric testing.

C. Procedures.

C-1. Requesting Noise Level Monitoring. University personnel who encounter equipment or an activity that may produce potentially hazardous noise levels should report their observations to their supervisor. The supervisor should call EHS to request noise level monitoring.

C-2. Mitigating Noise Levels. The preferred method of reducing or eliminating hazardous noise levels in work areas is by utilizing engineering controls such as acoustical insulation materials to attenuate the sound to below 85 decibels. Administrative controls may also be used to reduce the amount of time that an individual spends working in an area where potentially hazardous noise levels are produced. Hearing protection devices are least preferred due to the difficulty in assuring that employees always use hearing protection regularly and properly.

C-3. Procedure for Enrolling in the Hearing Conservation Program. University personnel who work in environments or with pieces of equipment which produce potentially hazardous noise levels as a part of their job at the university must enroll in the university’s HCP. Supervisors can enroll those affected individuals by calling EHS.

C-4. Procedure for Participation in Audiometric Testing. Participants in the HCP must take part in annual audiometric testing, conducted at the university at specified dates and times arranged by EHS. A certified audiologist administers the tests. Supervisors will be contacted by EHS personnel to arrange for test times and locations for their staff enrolled in the program.

C-5. Procedure for Participation in Hearing Conservation Training. Employees enrolled in the HCP are required to attend a formal classroom training session presented by EHS at the beginning of their employment with the university. Formal classroom training sessions will cover such topics as: the physical and psychological effects of exposure to excessive noise levels; the proper selection, use and care of hearing protection devices; and the purpose and proper procedures associated with annual audiometric testing. EHS will announce the time, date, and location of each training session.

D. Information. For additional information about the Hearing Conservation Program, audiometric testing, requests for monitoring or the selection and use of hearing protection devices, please contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office at (208) 885- 6524.