Industrial Hearing Tests
Industrial workers, and in fact anybody who works in an environment with high levels of noise, are at risk of hearing damage. Both workers and their employers need to be aware of the risks, and take steps to reduce them.
Hearing damage is preventable, as long as one takes the proper precautions and workers are tested regularly to pick up the warning signs that may point to hearing loss. Devices to protect hearing need not be expensive, and can easily be integrated into the everyday health and safety procedures of a business.
There are many national and state-level regulations that require employers to protect their employees against hearing damage. Whilst some large firms chose to meet these requirements independently, most chose to hire a hearing specialist to take care of it for them.
The most important requirements that industrial workers and employers should be aware of are those set by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), which are outlined in OSHA CFR 29 1910.95 & MSHA Part 62. There may also be some guidelines set by your state, however, so you should check with a compliance specialist to make sure you are aware of these also.
OSHA requirements stipulates special precautions for employees who experience a time weighted average of 85 dB. Such employees should be enrolled in program aimed at qualified hearing conservation. This program should include employee education as well as hearing testing to screen for damage (the reports of which must be reported).
Meeting the Requirements
One of the easiest ways to ensure that your company complies with industrial hearing conservation standards is to hire a hearing conservation specialist to run a program on your behalf. This solution is particularly attractive for smaller companies, who may not have the resources to run a program themselves, and who risk huge fines if they are found to be non-compliant.
Most companies that offer hearing conservation services are also able to complete hearing evaluations at the place of work, limiting the time (and cost) required to meet national standards. This is typically delivered through a mobile evaluation unit staffed by professionally licensed hearing technicians.
The Occupational Hearing Conservationist Technicians who typically complete on-site hearing evaluations are specialists in helping companies to meet statutory requirements. Their work is overseen by physician or audiologist. They have the expertise to detect the early indications of hearing loss, and also to provide training to employees. If the tests they deliver show any cause for concern, they will refer employees for a more in-depth test by an audiologist.
Education & Prevention
Alongside regular hearing tests, an important part of your hearing conservation program is employee education. This should include training on how to use hearing protection, and how to report any concerns over hearing loss.
Though OHC technicians can provide this training, they are not accredited to assess the efficacy of hearing conservation programs. Some companies and employees may also require specialized hearing protection equipment, and all companies should regularly conduct noise surveys and analyses.
Hearing conservation programs are a critical component of any industrial safety strategy, but one that need not require large amounts of resources: if in doubt, talk to a hearing specialist about your company’s needs.