Hearing Conservation

The University of Alabama has developed and implemented a Hearing Conservation Program. The purpose of this program is to minimize the potential of hearing loss by occupational or academic exposure to excessive noise levels. EHS is responsible for managing and operating this program. Elements of the program are: conducting noise level surveys, training and providing consultation regarding hearing protection and conservation measures.

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Noise Surveys

EHS shall conduct monitoring for noise exposure levels as indicated. It is the responsibility of supervisors to notify EHS when there is a need for a noise survey. Monitoring is conducted with using sound level meters utilizing the “A” weighted network. Personal dosimeters may be used at the discretion of EHS.

Exposure Limit

Persons exposed to noise levels at or above 85 dBA based on an eight hour time weighted average (TWA) shall be included in the hearing conservation program. EHS shall utilize controls such as noise reduction techniques or equipment in an effort to reduce levels below 85 dBA. Exposure levels at or above 85 dBA (TWA) require inclusion in the EHS Hearing Conservation Program.

Hearing Conservation

Participation and including in the Hearing Conservation Program is required of all employees and students exposure to noise levels at or above 85 dBA (TWA). For these persons the following elements are mandatory:

  • Hearing protection
  • Warning signage posted in high noise areas
  • Periodic noise level surveys
  • Provide hearing conservation training to all affected persons
  • Use of engineering and administrative controls to limit exposure
  • Provide initial and annual hearing tests

Training

EHS shall provide training to all persons include in the hearing conservation program. Others may be provided training if determined by EHS to be advisable. Training shall consist of the following:

  • How noise affects hearing and hearing loss;
  • Review of the OSHA hearing protection standard;
  • Explanation of audiometric testing;
  • Locations where hearing protection is required;
  • Selection, use and care of hearing protection;
  • Basic guidelines and procedures

Hearing Protection

EHS shall determine the type of hearing protection prescribed for the noise exposure and work task. Hearing protection is provided at no cost and replaced as necessary. Preformed earplugs and ear muffs should be periodically cleaned. Foam inserts should be discarded when dirty or when elasticity is lost. Hands must be washed before handling earplugs and inserts to prevent contaminants from being placed in the ear. EHS shall provide appropriate signage and posting information

Audiograms

Persons included in the Hearing Conservation Program shall have a baseline and annual audiogram. These shall be provided by The University. If the annual audiogram indicates a standard threshold shift, retesting shall be conducted within 30 days. If the standard threshold shift is confined the individual shall be notified immediately. Individuals who experience a standard threshold shift will be refitted with hearing protection and provided more in depth training on the effects of noise exposure

For more information regarding noise level surveys or hearing conservation programs, contact Hal Barrett or Mitch Yerby.