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Western Safety Products, Inc. 505 South Lander St., Seattle, WA 98134
Toll Free: (888) 823-0808 • Phone: (206) 264-0808 • Fax: (206) 264-4921
Website: http://www.westernsafety.com • sales@westernsafety.com

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Hearing Protection Information

In the United States, OSHA's Occupational Noise Standard 29 CFR 1910.95 requires that employers implement a Hearing Conservation Program if they have work areas with noise levels at or above 85 dBA (at an 8-hour Time Weighted Average). Employees exposed to those levels must undergo annual audiograms, have access to hearing protection when noise reaches 85 dBA and must wear hearing protection at 90 dBA.
While implementing a Hearing Conservation Program may appear complicated, there are a number of best practices safety managers can employ to ensure compliance with regulations and promote employee hearing safety.

  Noise Monitoring Audiometry Hearing Protectors Training Recordkeeping
Required by OSHA when employees are exposed to 85 dBA or higher (8-hour TWA) Noise monitoring is required within the facility.
Area Noise Sampling - Using a sound level meter, take a general measurement of noise in each section of your facility.
Personal Noise Sampling - Using a dosimeter, measure each employee's exposure to noise over his/her workshift.

AudiometryAnnual hearing tests must be available to all employees, and performed by a professional or qualified technician. Baseline Audiogram - Required within six months of first exposure or hire.
Audiogram Evaluation - Problem audiograms must be reviewed by an audiologist, otolaryngologist or physician.
Standard Threshold Shift (STS) - Employees who experience a 10 dB or more shift at 2000, 3000 and 4000 Hz in either ear compared
to baseline must be notified in writing within 21 days. If the loss is determined to be occupational, the employer must evaluate the employee's current hearing protectors and re-train the employee on use and fit.

A variety of suitable hearing protectors must be made available at no cost to employees.
Action Level 85 dBA - Hearing protectors must be made available at no cost to
your employees - those exposed to an 8-hour TWA of 85 dBA. Those with established Standard Threshold Shifts (STS) are required to wear HPDs, as are new employees who have not taken their baseline audiogram.
Permissible Exposure Limit 90 dBA ­Hearing protectors are required to be worn by all employees when exposed to an 8- hour TWA of 90 dBA or higher.

Provide annual hearing conservation training to all employees on the following:
Effects of Noise Exposure Use, Selection and Fitting of Hearing Protection Devices (HPD)
Audiometric Test Procedures

Retain all employee records, including exposure measurements and audiometric tests.
Records to Keep - Exposure measurements, audiometric tests and OSHA Form 300.
Accessible Records - All records must be made accessible to employees upon request and transferred to new organizations upon acquisition or close of business.

Best practices that promote and motivate hearing conservation

Document Changing Conditions ­Whenever you make a change in equipment or process, you need to document this change, even if the noise level is reduced.
Post a Noise Map - A noise map in common areas is an effective way to notify employees of area noise and related changes.
Document Exposure - Each employee's TWA noise exposure should be recorded in his/her personnel file.

Retain Records - This will help your audiologist compare audiograms serially overtime.
Get Follow-Up Reports - Ensure that your testing service provides understandable follow-up reports.
Review Results Immediately - Studies show that reviewing audiometric test results with employees right after testing yields a more positive impact.

Offer a True Variety - Make available to all your employees at least one style of single-use, multiple-use, and banded earplugs, and one earmuff.
Personal Attenuation Rating (PAR) ­Determine employees' earplug fit effectiveness by using field verification systems, such as VeriPRO'". Find out if they are receiving optimal protection, require additional training on earplug fitting, or need to try a different model.
Make HPDs Convenient -Increase accessibility to hearing protection by installing earplug dispensers near time clock or by placing earmuffs at supervisor stations.

Provide One-on-One Training ­This individualized attention will make for a more memorable training experience.
Offer Ongoing Education ­Distribute informational flyers and hang motivational posters in common areas and near hearing protection sources. Offer "toolbox" trainings throughout the year.

Get Follow-Up Reports Make sure your testing service provides follow-up reports that allow you to track audiograms over time.
Post OSHA Guidelines -
As required, post a copy of the OSHA Occupational Noise Standard in a visible location.

Understanding Risks

Understanding the Risks
Employees are generally unaware of the potentially harmful noise levels they are exposed to every day - both on the job and off. The Howard Leight® Noise Thermometer is a highly effective visual tool that helps employees understand noise risks in everyday activities and OSHA hearing protection requirements.

Main Components of OSHA Occupational Noise Standard 29 CFR 1910.95
OSHA Action Level - 85 dBA Monitor all noise levels
Annual audiometric testing for exposed workers
Annual training for exposed workers
Variety of suitable hearing protectors must be made available at no cost to the employee
OSHA Pennissible Exposure Limit - 90 dBA Hearing protectors required for noise-exposed workers

Earmuffs and Eyewear:
The thinner the frame, the better the attenuation.
The attenuation of an earmuff depends on a tight seal between the ear cushion and the head. Research conducted at the Howard Leight Acoustical Laboratory shows that safety eyewear with a thin frame (a width of 2 mm or less at the temples, where the earmuff cushion meets the frame), caused no significant decline in attenuation. However, eyewear with wider frames caused noticeable gaps in the seal and lowered attenuation - up to 5 dB ­particularly at low frequencies.

Noise Level Chart
Hearing Protectors required for all exposures over these levels: Hours per day 8 6 4 3 2 1.5 1 0.5
Sound Level (dBA) 90 92 95 97 100 102 105 110

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