OSHA Noise Standard Compliance Checklist
(Editor’s note: Larry D. Giovinazzo, Doctor of Audiology, prepared this guest article concerning OSHA’s Noise Standard. Dr. Giovinazzo is the owner of Audiology & Hearing Associates, Inc. in Howland, Ohio, and he is a frequent contractor to CTI in providing professional hearing-related services to our clients.)
Employers have many different responsibilities they must follow in building and maintaining a successful company. Some of these responsibilities are mandated and regulated by the government. In my experience, hearing conservation is an often overlooked or misunderstood subject by most employers. Following is a brief description of the OSHA noise standard that can be used as a compliance checklist within your company.
This checklist is a summary of the OSHA Noise standard 29 CFR 1910.95 requirement. It is intended to help companies conducting hearing conservation programs to evaluate the compliance and effectiveness of their program. This checklist is not intended to replace the OSHA standard.
Refer to OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a)-(p) with accompanying appendices A-I, Occupational Noise Exposure Standard for the standard’s specific requirements: Code of Federal Regulations, Title 29, Chapter XVII, Part 1910, Subpart G. (See also 36 FR 10466 and 10518, May 29, 1971: Amended 46 FR 4078-4179. Jan. 16, 1981; Revised 48 FR 9776-9785, Mar. 8 1983).
29 CFR 1910.95 Requirement
Protection Against Noise:
Must be provided when sound levels exceed 90 dBA time-weighted average measured with slow response and 5dB exchange rate.
Feasible engineering or administrative controls for employees exceeding TWA 90dBA.
Impulse or impact noise should not exceed 140dB peak sound pressure level.
Include employees whose noise exposures exceed 85dB TWA with 5dB exchange rate.
Conduct noise monitoring when 85dBA TWA equaled or exceeded with 5db exchange rate.
Use representative personal monitoring for highly mobile workers, significantly varying sound levels, and impulse noise exposure.
Include all continuous, intermittent, and impulsive sound levels from 80-130dBA in measurements.
Repeat monitoring when noise exposure increases significantly.
Notify employees of noise monitoring results when exposure is at or above 85dBA TWA with 5dB exchange rate.
Observation of Monitoring:
Employees or their representatives may observe noise monitoring.
Audiometric Test Program:
Audiometric testing available to employees exposed at or above 85dB TWA.
Tests performed by professional or competent technician (certification is recommended).
Audiograms meet 1910.95 Appendix C requirements.
Establish within 6 months or within 1 year if using mobile van.
Provide for 14-hour period without workplace noise before baseline (hearing protection can be substituted).
Notify employees to avoid high non-occupational noise levels before baseline.
Provide for all employees exposed at or above 85dB TWA with 5dB exchange rate.
Compare each annual test to baseline for validity and to see if standard threshold shift (STS) exists (10dB average at 2000, 3000, 4000 Hz).
If STS exists, retest within 30 days (optional).
Audiologist, otolaryngologist, or physician reviews problem audiogram and determines need for further evaluation.
Notify employees with STS in writing within 21 days. Actions to be taken (unless physician determines that STS is not work related): Provide employees with hearing protectors (if already not wearing), train in care and use, and require them to be worn.
-Refit and retain employees already using protectors.
-Refer as necessary for clinical evaluations or additional testing.
-Inform employees with non-work related ear problems of need for otologic exam.
Revision of Baseline:
Annual audiogram may become baseline as per OSHA criteria.
Standard Threshold Shift:
Definition- change relative to baseline of 10db or more in average hearing level at 2000, 3000, and 4000 Hz, either ear. (Allowance for aging optional- Appendix F).
Audiometric Test Requirements:
Each ear tested at frequencies of 500, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, and 6000 Hz.
Audiometers meet ANSI S3.6-1969.
Pulsed tone and self-recording audiometers meet Appendix C requirements.
Test rooms meet Appendix D requirements.
Audiometer Calibration includes: Functional checks before each day’s use, Acoustical check annually according to Appendix E, Exhaustive calibration every years.
Available to all employees exposed at or above 85dBA TWA and replaced as necessary.
Worn by employees when:
-Exposed to 90dBA TWA or above.
-Exposed to 85dBA TWA or above when:
-no baseline after 6 months, or -STS occurs Employees select from a variety of suitable hearing protectors.
Employees trained in care and use.
Employer ensures proper initial fitting and supervises correct use.
Hearing Protector Attenuation:
Evaluate attenuation for specific noise environments according to Appendix B.
Attenuate to at least 90dBa, 85dBA if STS is experienced.
Re-evaluate attenuation as necessary.
Provide training to employees exposed to 85dBA TWA or above. Repeat annually and update materials. Training includes:
-Effects of noise on hearing.
-Purpose of hearing protectors, advantages, disadvantages, attenuation; instructions on selection, fit, use, and care.
-Purpose and procedures of audiometric testing.
Copies of OSHA standard available to employees and their representatives and posted in the workplace.
Information provided by OSHA available to employees.
All records provided on request to employees, former employees, representatives, and OSHA.
Maintain accurate records of noise exposure measurements. Maintain audiometric records with the following information:
-Employee name and job classification.
-Date of Audiogram.
-Date of last acoustic or exhaustive calibration.
-Employee’s most recent noise exposure assessment.
-Background noise levels in audio test rooms.
Retain all noise exposure records for at least 2 years.
Retain all audiometric test records at least for duration of employment.
Transfer all records to successor employer.
Mandatory OSHA Appendices:
Noise Exposure Computation.
Methods for Estimating the Adequacy of Hearing Protector Attenuation.
Audiometric Measuring Instruments.
Audiometric Test Rooms.
Acoustic Calibration of Audiometers.
Non-Mandatory OSHA Appendices:
Calculations and Application of Age Corrections to Audiograms.
Monitoring Noise Levels.
Availability of Referenced Documents.