Occupational Hearing Conservation
Occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States.
Each year, about 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work. Over 30 million U.S. workers are exposed to chemicals, some of which are harmful to the ear (ototoxic) and hazardous to hearing. In addition to damaging workers’ quality of life, occupational hearing loss carries a high economic price to society.
We have been helping Montana State industries stay compliant with MSHA and OSHA standards for more than 30 years.
Our Industrial and Occupational Hearing Safety Service is a comprehensive testing, training, reporting, and recordkeeping program that will give you the confidence that you need that your employees’ hearing is well protected and your liability is significantly reduced.
We travel throughout western Montana to large and small facilities for on-site hearing conservation testing and training and have 4 conveniently located offices for new employee and applicant testing throughout the year.
Out team is trained and certified by the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation. CAOHC. We have a robust record management, reporting, and computational software which allows us to deliver fast and accurate responses for your employees and facility. Using cloud-based, HIPAA compliant storage, your records are protected and accessible.
WHEN IS IT NECESSARY TO IMPLEMENT A NOISE MONITORING PROGRAM?
It is not necessary for every employer to measure workplace noise. Noise monitoring or measuring must be conducted only when exposures are at or above 85 dB. Factors which suggest that noise exposures in the workplace may be at this level include employee complaints about the loudness of noise, indications that employees are losing their hearing, or noisy conditions which make normal conversation difficult. The employer should also consider any information available regarding noise emitted from specific machines. In addition, actual workplace noise measurements can suggest whether or not a monitoring program should be initiated.
HOW IS NOISE MEASURED?
There are two different instruments to measure noise exposures: the sound level meter and the dosimeter. A sound level meter is a device that measures the intensity of sound at a given moment. Since sound level meters provide a measure of sound intensity at only one point in time, it is generally necessary to take a number of measurements at different times during the day to estimate noise exposure over a workday. If noise levels fluctuate, the amount of time noise remains at each of the various measured levels must be determined.
A dosimeter is like a sound level meter except that it stores sound level measurements and integrates these measurements over time, providing an average noise exposure reading for a given period of time, such as an 8-hour workday. With a dosimeter, a microphone is attached to the employee’s clothing and the exposure measurement is simply read at the end of the desired time period. A reader may be used to read-out the dosimeter’s measurements. Since the dosimeter is worn by the employee, it measures noise levels in those locations in which the employee travels. A sound level meter can also be positioned within the immediate vicinity of the exposed worker to obtain an individual exposure estimate. Such procedures are generally referred to as “personal” noise monitoring.
WHERE CAN EQUIPMENT AND TECHNICAL ADVICE BE OBTAINED?
In addition to the services offered through Vibrant hearing, on-site assistance may be obtained from OSHA-supported state and private consultation organizations. These safety and health consultative entities generally give priority to the needs of small businesses.
CAN YOU HEARING WARNING SOUNDS, SUCH AS BACK-UP BEEPS- WHEN WEARING HEARING PROTECTORS?
The fact is that there are fatal injuries because people do not hear warning sounds. However, this is usually because the background noise was too high or because the person had severe hearing loss, not because someone was wearing hearing protectors. Using hearing protectors will bring both the noise and the warning sound down equally. So if the warning sound is audible without the hearing protector, it will usually be audible when wearing the hearing protector. Also, many warning systems can be adjusted or changed so warning signals are easier to detect.
WON’T HEARING PROTECTORS INTERFERE WITH OUR ABILITY TO HEAR IMPORTANT SOUNDS FROM MACHINERY AND EQUIPMENT?
Hearing protectors will lower the noise level of your equipment; it will not eliminate it. However, some hearing protectors will reduce certain frequencies more than others; so wearing them can make noises sound different. In cases where it’s important that the sound just be quieter without any other changes, there are hearing protectors that can provide flat attenuation. There are also noise-activated hearing protectors that allow normal sounds to pass through the ear and only “turn-on” when the noise reaches hazardous levels. There are even protectors that professional concert musicians use that can lower the sound level while retaining sound fidelity.
Call us or complete the Contact Form for more information about how we may be able to help you.
- Hearing Conservation Practices for Workers with Hearing Loss
- Understanding the first steps in managing an occupational hearing conservation program
- Hearing Loss Prevention Program
- Noise and hearing loss prevention: Noise Controls
- The Ardent Hearing Conservationist
Three primary types of hearing protection:
Universal Hearing Protection
The most commonly available type of hearing and ear protection- usually disposable or have a limited number of uses.
Custom Hearing Protection
The most comfortable and effective form of hearing protection and listening enjoyment.
Electronic Hearing Protection
The most customizable type of ear and hearing protection.
MSHA – Mining Safety and Health Administration, 30 CFR Part 62, Occupational Noise Exposure
Time to reach 100% noise dose
Exposure level per NIOSH REL
Exposure level per OSHA PEL