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Noise and Hearing Conservation

Image credit: OSHA

Session Objectives
You will be able to: Understand the effects of noise on hearing Identify sources of noise in your workplace Describe the purpose of audiometric testing and be able to interpret your test results Select, fit, and use hearing protection


What Is Sound?
Sound is a longitudinal pressure wave of
energy with the following characteristics:
Frequency (pitch) measured in hertz (Hz) Pressure (loudness) measured in decibels (dB)

Frequency and pressure of a sound wave

with duration of exposure determine the risk of hearing loss


Noise Sources
Machinery, tools, and
equipment emit sounds of varying loudness and in particular frequencies Continuous or intermittent Low-frequency equipment noise sources cause hearing loss in the speech frequencies

Sound Pressure Levels of Common Noises

Noise Source Whisper Conversation Shop tools Pneumatic drill Woodworking shop Abrasive blasting Jackhammer

Loudness 10 dB 65 dB 90 dB 100 dB 110 dB 115 dB 130 dB

OSHA Noise Exposure Limits

90 dBA TWA for 8-hour exposure 95 dBA TWA for 4-hour exposure 100 dBA TWA for 2-hour exposure 105 dBA TWA for 1-hour exposure Use engineering controls, administrative
controls, and personal protective equipment (hearing protection) to meet standards


Indicators of High Noise Levels

Noisy conditions can make normal
conversation difficult 80 dBPeople have to speak very loudly 85-90 dBPeople have to shout 95 dBPeople have to move close together to hear each other at all


How Is Noise Hazardous?

Noise can result in temporary or permanent
hearing loss It can cause you to misunderstand communication It can cause you to miss important safety warnings It can create unhealthy stress


How We Hear Sounds

Sound waves enter the ear canal Eardrum vibrations pass along tiny bones Tiny hairlike cells flow back and forth The auditory nerve sends signals to the
brain that are registered as sound


How Hearing Is Damaged

Hearing ability relies
on delicate parts that can be damaged in the inner and middle ear Hairlike cells in the inner ear are flattened by high noise levels and injured over time Hearing loss is gradual Hearing damage is permanent

Image Credit: OSHA

Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is any
reduction in the ability to hear Two types of loss
Temporary hearing loss (temporary threshold shift) may occur immediately following a high noise exposure Permanent hearing loss (standard threshold shift)


Signs of Hearing Loss

Difficulty hearing
people speak Inability to hear certain high-pitched or soft sounds Noise or ringing in ears Getting complaints that the radio or TV volume is too high

Image Credit: Tom Ouimet


Evaluating the Noise Exposure Hazard

Conduct a noise
Identify and characterize high-noise sources Identify impacted employees

Monitor impacted
employees Repeat monitoring
Image Credit: Tom Ouimet


Noise HazardsAny Questions?

Any questions about the hazards of
excessive noise and how to identify them? Questions about signs and symptoms of hearing loss? Questions about measuring hearing loss?


Elements of the Hearing Conservation Program

All employees exposed to >85 dBA for
8 hours must participate You receive:
Baseline and annual audiograms Annual training on hearing loss Audiograms and PPE

Hearing protection is provided Exposure assessment conducted


Audiometric Exams
Exams can detect early signs of hearing
loss Typically measures hearing threshold at six frequencies Hearing thresholds are compared with previous audiograms


Standard Threshold Shift (STS)

Hearing loss has occurred if you have
experienced a standard threshold shift (STS) Hearing ability changed by an average of 10 dB Revised hearing protection required for STS


Has an STS Occurred?

Baseline Annual

Image Credit: Tom Ouimet


An Example of Hearing Loss in Carpenters

Image Credit: Tom Ouimet


Hearing Protection Use

Voluntary use if exposed to an 8-hour TWA
of 85-90 dB Mandatory use when:
Exposed to an 8-hour TWA of 90 dB Exposed to an 8-hour TWA of 85 dB and have suffered an STS (hearing loss) or have not had a baseline hearing test


Hearing Protection Devices Noise Reduction

Hearing protection devices must reduce
employee noise exposure below an 8-hour TWA of 90 dB Employees with STS, noise exposure reduced below an 8-hour TWA of 85 dB Noise reduction ratio (NRR)
Earplugs: use 1/3 of NRR Earmuffs: use 1/2 of NRR


Hearing Protection Devices Earplugs and Canal Caps

Must be properly
inserted to seal the ear canal
Slowly roll and compress foam into cylinder Insert into ear canal while compressed

Keeps noise from

reaching the eardrum Cotton is not an earplug
Image Credit: State of WA-WISHA Services


Hearing Protection DevicesEarmuffs

Sealed against head

with ears fully enclosed Hair out from muffs Glasses and caps do not interfere with seal Headband adjusted so cushions exert even pressure Cleaned with warm, soapy water and rinsed


Any Questions?
Any questions about audiometric testing? Questions about our hearing protection
program? About when to use hearing protection? About hearing protection devices?


Key Things to Remember

Hearing is a very important sense dont
lose it Noise exposure over 85 dB can cause hearing loss Hearing loss cannot be cured or repaired Hearing tests are conducted annually and can detect hearing loss Hearing protection devices must be worn in high-noise areas

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