Protect Your Ears: The Importance of Hearing Conservation Training

Hearing Conservation Training ppt

Your hearing is the only sense that’s always “on”. But industrial equipment generates loud noises that can have lasting and harmful effects on your ears unless you take the proper precautions.

OSHA requires companies to implement a hearing conservation program which includes monitoring, audiometric testing, providing employees with the right type of hearing protection, and conducting training. Recordkeeping is required for two years and should include job assignments, exposure history, and protection used.

Monitoring

The goal of the hearing conservation program is to prevent initial occupational hearing loss, preserve and protect remaining hearing, and equip workers with knowledge and proper use of hearing protectors. The five essential components include monitoring, audiometric testing, training, and hearing protection.

The first step in the process is to monitor sound levels in the workplace to determine whether or not employees are at risk of exposure to noise that may result in a significant loss of hearing. The most effective way to monitor is through the use of personal dosimeters.

The dosimeters measure noise exposure by subtracting the noise level from a manufacturer’s noise rating and then divides that number by two. The number is then multiplied by an employee’s weight in pounds and converted to a decibel reading. Workers whose exposure is above 85 decibels over an 8-hour time weighted average are considered affected and must be included in the hearing conservation program.

Audiometric Testing

Audiometric testing involves asking workers to respond to tones played through a set of headphones. The worker signals when he hears the tone and the audiometric technician records the results on a graph, called an audiogram, for each ear. Additional testing may include speech audiometry and immittance audiometry to measure how well the ear canal and middle ear function, such as whether there is a perforation or stenosis of the ear drum or cerumen in the ear canal.

The program must also include annual audiograms to detect any loss or impairment of hearing from the baseline. A standard threshold shift (STS) is defined as an average change in hearing thresholds of 10 dB or more at 2000, 3000 and 4000 hertz in either ear.

Management must monitor the noise exposure levels of each employee using a personal dosimeter. The results must be incorporated into the employee’s medical file. Noise monitoring must be repeated whenever production or equipment changes and if workers enter areas of high noise exposure.

Protective Equipment

Noise exposure can have negative, lasting effects on hearing. To prevent such damage, proper safety measures should be taken whenever working with or near hazardous equipment. These presentations help employees understand what types of PPE to use, as well as how to maintain and care for them.

If an employee is exposed to a noise level above the action limit of 85 decibels for an 8-hour TWA, they must be provided with hearing protectors that attenuate such exposure. The adequacy of hearing protector attenuation should be re-evaluated regularly.

There are many different types of hearing protection available, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Provide a variety of styles and sizes to ensure that each worker is fitted with the appropriate device. If possible, bring in examples of each type for the class to hold up and describe. Keep track of which protectors each employee wears and the type used for monitoring, audiometric testing and training purposes. This information can be important during an animal disease emergency as it will show the type of protective equipment that was worn and how much time each worker spent in high noise areas.

Training

Hearing conservation programs aim to prevent initial occupational hearing loss, preserve and protect existing hearing, and equip employees with the knowledge and protection devices they need to work safely. They include training, periodic audiometric testing, and evaluations of the adequacy of hearing protectors (unless job changes such as tools, equipment, or schedules result in worker noise exposure below 85 decibels).

Employees should understand how damage to cilia in the ear works and its long-term consequences, sources of hazardous noise, and how to work safely around them. They should also be aware that off-job hazards such as loud music and power tools can lead to permanent hearing loss.

Training should be augmented with informational multimedia videos that teach employees how to select and properly use hearing protection, as well as dispel common myths about HPDs. Checklists can be linked to these microlearning tools, so that employees have a reminder of what they need to do on the job to stay safe.

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