Hearing Conservation

ESCO Group’s Hearing Conservation Program (HCP) is required for all employees exposed to an 8 hour time-weighted average (TWA) of 85 dB or greater, and includes the following:

1. Noise Exposure Monitoring 

a) A complete and up-to-date noise survey must be retained on record for at least two years. Please notify the ESCO Group’s Safety Director to request or arrange test results for each general industries facility where work is being performed, so they may provide us with the survey results. 

b) Noise monitoring should be conducted when 85dBA TWA is equaled or exceeded. Monitoring must be repeated whenever a change is production process, equipment or controls increases noise exposures enough to effect the HCP or hearing protection policies. 

c) Employees in the HCP must be informed of the results of monitoring when exposure is at or above 85dBA TWA. 

d) When noise exposures exceed 90 dBA, feasible administrative or engineering controls must be utilized. 

e) Impulse or impact noise should not exceed 140dBA peak sound pressure level. 

f) A copy of the Noise Standard and Hearing Conservation Amendment will be posted in the workplace and accessible to employees. Any informational materials relating to the Standard, which are supplied by OSHA, will be made available to affected employees. 

2. Audiometric Testing 

a) A baseline audiogram (after 14 hours of quiet or supervised hearing protection use) will be obtained within 6 months of hire, within 6 months of first exposure, or 1 year if a mobile testing service is used. It is recommended that employees be notified to avoid high non-occupational noise levels 14 hours prior to their baseline-hearing test. 

b) Employees will be tested at least annually thereafter (anytime during work shift). 

c) Audiometric calibration, test environment background noise levels and tester qualifications must meet OSHA standards (CAOHC certification of technicians required in Oregon and Washington State.) 
Audiometer calibration includes: 

i. Functional checks prior to each day’s use. 

ii. Acoustical check annually according to Appendix E 

iii. Exhaustive calibration every 2 years. 

d) The audiometric test must include the following test frequencies: 500, 100, 2000, 3000, 4000 and 6000 Hz (8000Hz also recommended in Iowa-required in some state). 

3. Audiometric Data Analysis and Follow-up 

a) ESCO Group will compare each annual hearting test to the baseline for validity and to see if a Standard Threshold shift (STS) exists. 

b) The following changes to the STS were implemented on January 1, 2003:

c) On January 1, 2003, OSHA changed the point at which hearing loss becomes recordable on the OSHA Form 300. An average shift is hearing of 10dB at 2000, 3000, and 4000 hertz (Hz) in either ear when compared to the baseline audiogram or revised baseline audiogram is now considered potentially recordable. (Prior to January 1, 2003, a 25 dB shift was considered recordable). Age adjustment may be used when calculated these shifts. Separate ear baseline analysis should be used in order to determine an STS. 

d) If a 10dB STS has occurred, and the employee’s actual hearing thresholds from 2000-4000 Hz, are less than 25dB, they are considered to be within normal hearing range and the STS is not considered recordable.

e) If a 10dB STS has occurred and the employee’s actual hearing levels from 2000-4000 Hz are at 25 dB or above, the STS is considered to be a recordable shift. 

f) The employee will be informed of an STS in writing within 21 days of determination. An STS which meets the criteria for Record ability must be recorded on the OSHA log within 7 days, or if a retest is conducted, with 7 days of the retest, the retest should be conducted within 30 days.

g) If the reviewing audiologist or physician determines that a Standard Threshold Shift is work related, the shift is also recordable. If they determine that the hearing loss is not noise/work related, it does not need to be recorded on the OSHA Log. 

h) Employees experiencing as STS will be provided with hearing protection offering greater attenuation than their current hearing protection if necessary. Employees not currently using hearing protectors must be fitted with hearing protection devices, trained in their use and care and required to use them.

i) OSHA indicates that the employer should pay for a medical referral if a Standard Threshold Shift exists and is thought to be caused, or aggravated by the utilization of hearing protectors. 

j) If future records of testing and follow-up must be retained for at least the duration of employee’s employment. 

k) The employee’s baseline audiogram may be revised is specific circumstances under determination by the reviewing audiologist or physician. 

4. Record Keeping 

a) ESCO Group will maintain accurate records of noise exposure measurements. 

b) Maintain audiometric records with the following information: 

i. Employee name and job classification 

ii. Date of audiogram 

iii. Examiner’s name. 

iv. Date of last acoustic or exhaustive calibration. 

v. Employee’s most recent noise exposure assessment. 

vi. Background noise levels in audio test rooms 

c) Retain all noise exposure records for at least two years. 

d) Retain all audiometric test records at least for the duration of employment. ESCO Group will retain these records for the duration of employment plus thirty years in compliance with IOSH 1910.20 Assess to employee exposure and medical records.

5. Hearing Protection 

a) Hearing protectors must be made available to and properly used by all employees exposed to 85 dBA TWA or greater at no cost to the employee. 

b) Use of hearing protectors is mandatory for employees in the hearing conservation program who: 

i. Are exposed to greater than 90 dBA TWA

ii. Have demonstrated a Standard Threshold Shift 

iii. Have been employed by the company for 6 months, are exposed to 85 dBA TWA or greater and whose baseline audiograms have been delayed because a mobile test service visits the facility only once a year. 

c) Employees have the opportunity to select their hearing protectors from a variety of suitable types provided by the company. The minimum variety is usually considered to be one earplug and one earmuff. 

d) The employee will receive training in the care and use of the hearing protectors. The company will ensure proper fitting and correct use. 

e) Hearing protectors must adequately reduce the workplace noise exposure of each employee. 

6. Employee Training 

a) Employees exposed to 85dBA TWA or greater will receive initial hire training and an annual training program on hearing conservation. The following topics must be covered during the annual training program:

i. The effects of noise on hearing 

ii. The purpose of hearing protectors

iii. The advantages, disadvantages and attenuation of various types of hearing protectors. 

iv. Instructions on hearing protector selection, fitting, use and care. 

v. The purpose of audiometric testing, with an explanation of the test procedures.