The OSHA regulations
regarding the testing of employees who are exposed to excessive noise levels are outlined
What OSHA defines as excessive noise .. and how much can your hearing handle?
A simple definition of noise is "loud unwanted sound". What is noise to one
person may be entertainment to another. From a legal standpoint the definition of noise is
different. Legally noise is exposure to sounds exceeding an average of 90 dB of noise for
eight hours per day. A TWA (time weighted average) of 90 dB equals the current maximum
legal noise exposure. The exposure level is currently being reviewed and NIOSH is
recommending that the TWA is reduced to 85 dB for all workers.
The decibel scale is a logarithmic scale, which means that the scale is not linear, and
we really have a hard time relating to the numbers. Every three dB represents a doubling
of the sound level, and every 10 dB represents a tenfold increase in sound intensity. Add
two machines making 90 dB each, and the result is 93 dB.
Noise erodes the small hair cells inside the cochlea of the human hearing organ. It is
a very gradual process, and not a very noticeable one in the early stages. The damage that
occurs on a daily basis is at first a temporary hearing damage. With repeated noise
exposure the temporary damage turns into a permanent damage. At this stage the damage is
How can you prevent this from happening to you or your employees? Noise control
measures should come first. Eliminate or reduce the noise whenever possible. When all
measures have been taken to improve the environment, hearing protection must be used if
noise still exceeds the action level. An average hearing protector has the attenuation of
20 to 29 dB. Considering that every 3 dB cuts the noise in half, you can get a lot of
protection from an ear muff or ear plug. But hearing protection has to be used correctly
or they will lose a great proportion of their effectiveness.
The above summary of OSHAs hearing conservation requirements is not intended
to be complete. The complete regulation (29CFR-1910.95) is available on the internet.
OSHA ISSUED FINAL RULE ON
RECORDING HEARING LOSS
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
issued a final rule on July 1, 2002, that revises the criteria for recording work-related
Beginning Jan. 1, 2003, employers will be required to record work-related hearing loss
cases when an employee's hearing test shows a marked decrease in overall hearing.
Employers can make adjustments for hearing loss caused by aging, seek the advice of a
physician or licensed health care professional to determine if the loss is work-related,
and perform additional hearing tests to verify the persistence of the hearing loss.
"Hearing loss can result in a serious disability and put employees at risk of being
injured on the job," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "This approach will
help employers better protect their workers and help all of us improve our national injury
and illness statistics and prevent future hearing loss among our nation's workers."
Under the new rule, the criteria will record 10-decibel shifts from the employee's initial
hearing test when they also result in an overall hearing level of 25 decibels. The old
criteria recorded 25-decibel shifts.
The agency is also seeking public comments on a proposed one-year delay of the
recordkeeping rule's definition of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), and whether to
include MSDs and hearing loss columns on the OSHA Form 300 Log of Occupational Injuries
Written comments on the agency's proposal to delay the recordkeeping rule's definition of
"musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), and whether to include MSDs and hearing loss
columns on recordkeeping forms, had to be submitted by August 30, 2002, in triplicate to
the Docket Office, Docket R-02B, Room N2625, Occupational Safety and Health
Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 20210,
The final rule on the criteria for recording work related hearing loss and the notice
soliciting comment on the definition of MSDs and columns for MSDs and hearing loss was
scheduled to appear in the July 1, 2002 Federal Register
- Final Rule] Detailed information on the Agency's recordkeeping requirements is
OSHA's web site.
Related Hearing Loss and Compensation, NIOSH Article
Audiology Awareness Campaign is a not for profit foundation whose mission is to educate
the public about the value of hearing care. The AAC is involved in a multimedia effort to
help those with hearing impairment find quality hearing health care.
Hear-it ...Hear-it.org deals with almost
any issue concerning hearing impairment such as: good advice and practical information for
hearing-impaired people -prevention of hearing loss-information and advice for relatives
and colleagues -factual information about hearing issues -statistics about hearing loss
-the consequences of hearing impairment for the individual as well as for society.
The Alexander Graham Bell Association for
the Deaf and Hard of Hearing ....The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf
and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) is the world's oldest and largest membership organization
promoting the use of spoken language by children and adults with hearing loss
Hearing Loss Does Not Discriminate
...The inability to hear speech and
other sounds can occur in any individual, regardless of race, gender or age. In the United
States alone, an estimated 28 million people have some form of hearing impairment
Industrial Paramedical Services has been providing complete Multi-Phasic
Mobile health testing services to over 800 Midwestern plant facilities since 1975. We
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Our visual presentation audiometric 8
year record chart transcends language barriers and reinforces a real "fear of hearing
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protection. Early detection of hearing loss can alert both parties to the need for
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Innovators of Preventative Medicine
in Industrial Health Care
IPS wants to prevent hearing loss in the workplace by providing
professional services, products and resources that educate and motivate industrial
employers and employees to support and incorporate hearing conservation practices that
prevent a noise-induced hearing loss.