When one thinks of hearing conservation, they do not realize the many elements involved in order to prevent Noise Induced Hearing Loss. Wearing ear plugs, in and of itself, does not constitute a effective/compliant hearing conservation program. Hearing conservation programs MUST contain the following four elements:
1. A Sound Audit uses sound level meters and dosimeters to determine the noise exposure to workers in their workplace. This information is then used to formulate a plan to help employers reduce the worker’s exposure by investigating options for noise control, reducing exposure time, and determining the proper hearing protection so that workers are not under protected or over protected.
2. Education is essential to arm workers with the knowledge they need in order to protect themselves. Signs must be present, and educational meetings regarding the results of noise in the workplace are recommended.
3. Hearing Protection is the most important component of a hearing conservation program, but must be used properly in order to be effective. Once the level of noise in the workplace is known, workers can be equip with the appropriate protection. Workers exposed to a sound level of 85dB or higher are required to wear hearing protection. At least two types of hearing protection must be provided and one should be a muff and the other a plug. Remember if the protection is not comfortable, then it will not be worn regularly. We offer Custom Molded Hearing Plugs which offer the most versatility for protection and comfort.
4. Audiometric Testing / Hearing Tests are an excellent and legislated tool to quantify and gauge the success of your hearing conservation program. The audiometric results over time can show if changes have occurred in their hearing and the necessary steps can be taken to slow down the progression or stop it.
Hazards of High Noise Levels
- Tinnitus – Head noises which are often untreatable and can result in debilitating illness
- Hearing Loss – Sensori-Neural hearing loss which results in deteriorated ability to understand language. Hearing disability is a lifetime problem.
- Recruitment – the inability to tolerate louder sounds which can result in withdrawal from the work force and society.