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Hearing Conservation Policy

Introduction

The purpose of this policy and Lehigh University's Hearing Conservation Program is to prevent occupational noise exposures which could lead to noise-induced hearing loss and to comply with existing federal occupational noise exposure regulations.

Policy

The University will strive to maintain all occupational noise exposures below 85 decibels (dBA) for an 8-hour time-weighted average (8-hour TWA). Noise levels will be measured at operations where information indicates that employee exposures may equal or exceed an 8-hour TWA of 85 dBA. Lehigh University's Hearing Conservation Program will apply to all employees and operations where employee exposures have been found to exceed an 8-hour TWA of 85 decibels or greater.

High noise areas (areas where employee exposures are equal to or exceed an 8-hour TWA of 90 dBA) will be evaluated for engineering controls. Decisions concerning the implementation of engineering controls will be made after a thorough review of all the available options.

All new facilities and equipment should be reviewed for potential noise hazards at the design stage. Equipment specifications should include a request for noise emission data and noise control data.

Hearing protectors will be made available to all employees exposed to an 8-hour TWA of 85 dBA or greater at no cost to the employee. Departments, Centers/Institutes shall bear the cost of hearing protectors for their employees.

Hearing protective devices must be used when other measures have failed to reduce noise exposures to safe levels (levels below 90 dBA as an 8-hour TWA) or in the interim when engineering controls are in the process of installation.

Annual audiometric testing will be provided to all employees who are exposed to noise levels equal to or greater 85 dBA for an 8-hour TWA. The cost for audiograms will be borne by the affected employee's department and will be provided at no cost to the employee. Departments, Centers/Institutes shall ensure that audiometric examinations are also given within thirty days of termination for their employees exposed to noise at or above 85 decibels for an 8-hour TWA.

Departments, Centers/Institutes shall ensure that all of their employees exposed to noise equal to or greater than 85 dBA for an 8-hour TWA attend annual hearing conservation training.

Employees exposed to noise levels equal to or greater than 85 dBA for an 8-hour TWA will be notified of his/her monitoring results in writing. Noise exposure records will be maintained by Environmental and Safety (EH&S) for the duration of the affected employee's employment plus thirty years.

Departments affected by Lehigh University's Hearing Conservation Program shall ensure compliance with the program according to the following itemized list of responsibilities:

Itemized List of Responsibilities
  1. Environmental Health and Safety
    1. Set up hearing conservation program specifications.
    2. Develop the noise sampling strategy.
    3. Conduct the initial monitoring to identify hearing conservation and high noise areas.
    4. Conduct employee monitoring for employees exposed to noise levels greater than or equal to 85 dBA for an eight-hour time-weighted average.
    5. Identify high noise and hearing conservation areas.
    6. Inform the Departments, Centers/Institutes as to the locations of high noise and hearing conservation areas.
    7. Conduct or coordinate monitoring in high noise areas for the purpose of investigating engineering controls and verifying the effectiveness of engineering controls.
    8. Conduct monitoring following changes in procedures and/or processes which may significantly change noise exposures.
    9. Provide employee training and/or training resources.
    10. Provide training and/or training resources for departments to train employees in the proper fitting, care, and cleaning of hearing protection devices and aural hygiene.
    11. Audit the audiotronic testing program.
    12. Maintain exposure records in compliance with OSHA Standards.
    13. Periodically audit the use of hearing protection.
    14. Assist in the development of engineering controls.
  2. Departments, Centers, and Institutes
    1. Ensure that Departments, Centers/Institutes employees who have noise exposures of 85 dBA or greater as an 8-hour TWA attend training provided by Environmental Health and Safety or equivalent at least annually.
    2. Require workers who have a standard threshold shifts to use hearing protection in hearing conservation areas.
    3. Require all workers to use hearing protection in high noise areas.
    4. Send workers for annual audiometric testing on schedule.
    5. Assist in the development of engineering controls.
    6. Inform the employees when hearing protection is mandatory.
    7. Require the employees to use the personal protective and noise control equipment which is provided for them.
    8. Purchase and issue hearing protective devices.
    9. Inform Environmental Health and Safety when changes in personnel, procedures and/or processes may significantly change noise exposures.
    10. Erect signs to delineate hearing conservation areas and high noise areas.
  3. St. Luke's Hospital, Department of Occupational Health
    1. Administer audiometric testing in compliance with OSHA Standards.
    2. Perform otoscopic examinations.
    3. When a standard threshold shift has occurred as specified in OSHA 1910.95. inform the employee in writing within twenty-one days of determination and instruct him/her on the use of hearing protection.
    4. Provide a list containing the names of employees with standard threshold shifts to Environmental Health and Safety, 616 Brodhead Avenue, Bethlehem, PA 18015.
    5. Fit hearing protection devices.
    6. Maintain and calibrate audiometric testing equipment.
  4. Facilities Services
    1. Report for annual audiometric test when scheduled.
    2. Use hearing protection in high noise areas.
    3. Use hearing protection in hearing conservation areas.
    4. Properly use and maintain the hearing protection devices and noise control equipment provided by to them.
For more information regarding this policy, contact Environmental Health and Safety 610-758-4251.
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