Stanford University

Hearing Conservation

Our Hearing Conservation Program (HCP) aims to prevent permanent noise-induced hearing loss resulting from on-the-job noise exposure. The Program complies with Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations, Sections 5095-5100. We serve all employees of Stanford who are determined to meet or exceed the action level established by Cal/OSHA.

Responsibilities
  1. Supervisor/Department

    • Notifying Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) of noise complaints or potential noise hazards.
    • Ensuring that employees are provided with hearing protectors when required.
    • Ensuring that employees properly use and care for hearing protectors.
    • Ensuring that noise-hazardous equipment/areas are properly labeled or posted (greater than or equal to 85 dBA operating noise level).
    • Notifying Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) of process, materials or equipment changes that may alter noise exposures.
    • Ensuring that potentially overexposed employees are provided with a baseline audiometric hearing test prior to the initial work assignment and then annually thereafter. High noise exposure must be avoided for 14 hours prior to an exam.
    • Enforcing the use of hearing protectors or noise reduction procedures in the designated areas/assignments.
    • Ensuring new employee HCP orientation/training and annual refresher HCP training of employees are provided to all potentially overexposed personnel.
    • Post copy of occupational noise regulation (California Code of Regulation, Title 8, Sections 5096-5100, Article 105)
    • Maintaining the following records (see Record Keeping 4.5):
      • Name and job classification of the employee in the HCP
      • Audiometric test results from our Occupational Health Provider
      • Noise exposure assessments from EH&S
      • Training documentation

    Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S)

    • Administering the Hearing Conservation Program.
    • Workplace and employee noise evaluation:
      • noise assessment to determine if administrative and engineering controls are needed, and how they should be implemented.
      • identification of areas or processes that require noise abatement and/or posting.
      • evaluation and periodic re-evaluation of employees’ exposure, by job classification, to determine which job titles need to be included in the Hearing Conservation Program.
    • Maintaining records of employee exposure measurements.
      • Providing comprehensive annual training on HCP and Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs).
      • Assisting employees in selecting the proper HPDs and providing instructions on their use.

    Employees

    • Wearing hearing protection devices and following any noise reduction procedures as required.
    • Storing and maintaining HPDs in a clean and sanitary manner.
    • Reporting noise hazards and hearing protector problems to their supervisor.
    • Attending required training sessions on HCP.

    Stanford University Occupational Health Provider

    • Providing baseline, annual, and post-employment audiometric testing.
    • Performing audiogram evaluations.
    • Communicating any identified work-related (or aggravated by occupational noise exposure) standard threshold shifts to the employee, his/her supervisor, EH&S, and Risk Management (if reportable under Title 8 CCR 14300.10).
    • Maintaining audiometric test records.
    • Recommending appropriate hearing protectors and fitting as needed.

    Stanford University Risk Management

    Shall record cases of occupational hearing loss if the employee’s current audiogram reveals a work-related Standard Threshold Shift (STS) of 25 decibels or more (averaged at 2000, 3000, and 4000 Hz) above audiometric zero in the same ear on the Cal/OSHA Form 300 (or equivalent). [Title 8 CCR 14300.10]


Noise Surveys and Monitoring
    • EH&S will perform representative noise monitoring with a designed sampling strategy to identify employees for inclusion in the Hearing Conservation Program and to enable the proper selection of hearing protection.
    • All continuous, intermittent and impulsive sound levels from 80 to 130 dBA shall be integrated into the computation of an 8-hr TWA.
    • Monitoring shall be repeated when any changes occur in production, process, equipment, or controls which might render the hearing protectors inadequate or require additional employees to be included in the program.
    • Employees exposed at or above the action level shall be notified of the results of the monitoring.
    • Employees’ noise exposure shall be reassessed periodically as needed (e.g. following changes in processes, job responsibilities, equipment, or when a standard threshold shift is determined).

Audiometric Testing
  1. The Audiometric Testing Program shall be managed by the Occupational Health Provider. This includes performing audiometric database analysis (ADBA) procedures to assess the effectiveness of hearing conservation efforts (as defined in ANSI Standard S12.13-199).

    Baseline audiograms shall be provided for all employees whose job classifications are included in the Hearing Conservation Program upon employment, and annually thereafter.

    All hearing tests must be preceeded by at least 14 hours without exposure to noise (at work and at home). This requirement may be met by wearing hearing protectors, which will reduce the employee’s exposure to a sound level of 80 dBA or below. When an audiogram indicates a work-related standard threshold shift, employees shall be informed in writing within 21 days .

    Evaluation of audiograms shall comply with CCR Title 8, Section 5097 (d).


Hearing Protection Devices
    • If employees are exposed to noise levels at or above an 8-hour TWA of 90 dBA, they shall wear hearing protectors.
    • If employees are exposed to noise levels at or above the action level of an 8-hour TWA of 85 dBA and have experienced a documented standard threshold shift or have not obtained a baseline audiogram, they shall wear hearing protectors.
    • If employees are exposed to noise levels at or above the action level of an 8-hour TWA of 85 dBA, hearing protectors shall be made available at no cost to them.
    • Employees shall be given the opportunity to select their hearing protectors from a variety of suitable types.
    • Proper initial fitting and supervision of the correct use of hearing protectors shall be provided.
    • Hearing protector attenuation shall be evaluated for the specific noise environments in which the protector will be used. The methods used for measuring attenuation shall be one of the four methods described in CCR Title 8, Section 5098, Appendix E.
    • Hearing protectors must attenuate the noise level to an 8-hour TWA of 90 dBA or less.
    • For employees who have experienced a standard threshold shift, the attenuation must reduce the sound level to an 8-hour TWA of 85 dBA or less.
    • Whenever a workplace noise level increase renders the hearing protector’s attenuation inadequate, re-evaluation of hearing protectors shall be done.
    • Workplaces in which the noise level exceeds 85 dBA shall have signs posted that read “Hearing Protectors Required.”

Employee Education and Training
  1. All employees exposed to noise at or above an 8-hour TWA of 85 dBA must complete annual training.

    The training shall cover the following information:

    • Effects of noise on hearing
    • Purpose, advantages, disadvantages, and attenuation of various types of hearing protectors
    • Proper fitting and care of protectors
    • Purpose and procedures of audiometric testing

    Copies of the occupational noise regulation (CCR Title 8, Section 5096-5100, Article 105) shall be available to affected employees and their representatives, along with any informational materials supplied by OSHA pertaining to this standard. A copy of the regulation shall also be posted in the workplace.


Record Keeping
  1. EH&S shall retain noise exposure measurement records for at least two years.

    Departments with employees enrolled in the Hearing Conservation Program should maintain audiometric test records provided by the Occupational Health Provider, which should include:

    • The name and job classification of the employee
    • The date of the audiogram
    • The examiner’s name
    • The employee’s most recent noise exposure assessment
    • The date of the most recent acoustic or exhaustive calibration of the audiometer and the measurement of the background sound pressure levels in the audiometric test rooms

    Records of audiometric test results shall be retained for the duration of the affected employee’s employment.

    Record

    Location

    Retention Time

    Medical evaluations and audiograms

    Occupational Health Provider

    As long as employee is enrolled in HCP

    Medical evaluation results

    Supervisor/department

    As long as employee is enrolled in HCP

    Hearing Conservation Program Manual

    EH&S and website

    Ongoing

    Noise surveys and employee noise monitoring

    EH&S and/or supervisor/department

    At least two years

    Training records

    Supervisor and/or department

    At least two years


FAQs
  1. General Questions

    Does my workplace have a noise hazard problem?

    The noise level will likely exceed 85 decibels (the allowable noise level for an 8-hour day) if any of these conditions occurs:

    • The noise at the workplace is so loud that you have to raise your voice to be heard at a normal conversational distance.
    • When you leave work and are in a quieter environment, your ears feel plugged.
    • You hear a mild ringing or whooshing noise that goes away after an hour or two.
    • When this happens call Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) at 723-0448 for a noise survey.

    Hearing Conservation Program Questions

    If EH&S determines there is a noise hazard, what should the supervisor do next?

    If EH&S determines there is a noise hazard which requires engineering or administrative controls, the following procedures should be implemented:

    1. Eliminate or reduce the noise hazard to the extent possible through engineering controls and work practices.
    2. Label the work area and/or equipment as noise hazardous.
    3. Provide hearing protectors when controls are not possible or insufficient, or while controls are being implemented.
    4. Provide training on preventing noise-inducing hearing loss and proper use of hearing protective devices.
    5. Enroll your overexposed employees in the Hearing Conservation Program.

    How does the supervisor enroll the overexposed employees in the Hearing Conservation Program?

    Notify your Department Safety Person and EH&S with names and job titles of the personnel exposed as well as the supervisor contact name, department, phone and e-mail. Then schedule audiograms and training.

    Medical Questions

    How does the supervisor schedule an audiogram?

    Call our Occupational Health Provider for a baseline audiogram (if this is his/her first) or annual audiogram. A new employee’s audiogram should be done within six months of being hired. High noise exposure must be avoided for 14 hours prior to an exam.

    Does age affect your hearing ability?

    While it’s true that most people’s hearing gets worse as they grow older, for the average person aging does not cause impaired hearing until age 60 at the earliest. People who are not exposed to noise and are otherwise healthy keep their hearing for many years. People who are exposed to noise and do not protect their hearing begin to lose their hearing at an early age.

    Since I already have hearing loss and wear a hearing aid, hearing prevention programs don’t apply to me, right?

    If you have hearing loss, it’s important to protect the hearing that you have left. Loud noises can continue to damage your hearing, making it even more difficult to communicate at work and with your family and friends.

    Training Questions

    How does the supervisor schedule training?

    Call EH&S at 723-0448. Hearing Protective Devices

    Can you poke out your eardrums with earplugs?

    That is unlikely for two reasons. First, the average ear canal is about 1 ¼ inches long. The typical earplug is between ½ to ¾ of an inch long. So even if you inserted the entire earplug, it would still not touch the eardrum. Second, the path from the opening of the ear canal to the ear drum is not straight. In fact, it is quite irregular. This prevents you from poking objects into the eardrum.

    We work in a dusty, dirty place. Should I worry that our ears will get infected by using earplugs?

    Using earplugs will not cause an infection. Have clean hands when using earplugs that need to be rolled or formed with your fingers. If this is inconvenient, there are disposable pre-molded earplugs or ones with stems so that you can insert them without touching the part that enters the ear canal.

    Can you hear warning sounds, such as backup beeps, when wearing hearing protectors?

    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 a severe hearing loss. Using hearing protectors will bring both the noise and the warning sound down equally. If the warning sound is audible without the hearing protector, it will be audible when wearing the hearing protector.



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