Hearing Conservation Program 101
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates many safety and surveillance programs for employers, but one of the most commonly cited employer deficiencies is the Hearing Conservation Program (HCP).
What is the Hearing Conservation Program?
The HCP aims to protect employees from hearing loss due to noise exposure in their work environment. OSHA mandates that employers create and maintain a hearing conservation program for employees who are exposed to noise levels of 85-decibels (dB) or greater on an 8-hour time-weighted average.
Employers should perform a noise level assessment at their worksite to determine which employees are at risk of hearing loss and should be enrolled in the company’s HCP.
What are the components of an HCP?
- Administrative controls limiting noise exposure
- Employee education about hearing protection
- Supplying and fitting hearing protection devices at no cost to the employee
- Providing audiograms at no cost to the employee
- Employees must receive a baseline audiogram within six months of their first exposure to their noisy environment.
- Employees must have no noise exposure for 14 hours before the audiogram.
- Audiograms are analyzed by a medical team.
- An annual audiogram is compared to an employee’s baseline audiogram to detect hearing loss.
- Standard threshold shift (STS) is a loss of hearing of 10 dB or more on average at 2000, 3000 and 4000 frequencies.
- An audiology technician analyzes an employee’s annual audiogram and if there is an STS, the hearing test is reviewed by an audiologist or physician.
- If an audiologist or physician confirms the results that show hearing loss, they evaluate the need for further testing and send a report to the employer.
- The employer must report the results to the employee within 21 days.
After STS is reported, what’s next?
- If the STS is OSHA recordable, the employer may provide an additional audiogram within 30 days of the employee’s annual audiogram to confirm the results.
- If the STS is confirmed, the employer must place it on the OSHA 300 log.
- Then, the employer must:
o Educate the employee again about hearing protection
- Re-fit hearing protectors if needed
- Ensure the employee is wearing hearing protectors
- If the STS is present at the next annual audiogram, the physician may revise the baseline audiogram.
What are an employer’s recordkeeping requirements for an HCP?
- Maintain noise exposure measurements for two years
- Maintain all audiometric test records during employment
- Must provide employees with access to their records upon request
What can Sanford OccMed provide to your HCP?
- Education on hearing protection
- Molded hearing protectors
- Audiograms both onsite and in a clinic setting
- Physician review of audiograms that show possible hearing loss
- OSHA hearing loss examinations