Occupational Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
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Learn strategies to prevent work-related hearing loss.Over 22 million workers are exposed to noise in the workplace every day at potentially damaging levels. When uncontrolled, noise exposure may cause permanent hearing loss, an irreversible health condition that is fully preventable. Hearing loss can also interfere with effective training and communication, including the ability to hear workplace warning signals, which puts hearing-impaired workers at an elevated risk of injury. New information confirms that exposure to certain chemicals may cause hearing loss or balance problems, regardless of noise exposure, but the combination of noise and chemicals can be extremely hazardous to workers, so this is another consideration for some employers when developing a program for protecting workers. Hearing loss results in some $250 million per year in preventable workers' compensation costs. This material will explain the fundamentals of OSHA compliance with the general industry and construction noise standards, as well as best practices for mitigating noise exposures, conducting hazard assessments, and ensuring that the appropriate protections are provided for workers exposed to elevated noise levels who are enrolled in a workplace hearing conservation program.
AuthorsAdele L. Abrams, Esq., CMSP, Law Office of Adele L. Abrams P.C.
Overview of Issue
• What Is Occupational Hearing Loss?
• When Is This Recordable on OSHA Logs?
• Which OSHA Noise Standards Apply (General Industry vs. Construction)
• Conducting a Hazard Assessment Under 29 CFR 1910.132
OSHA's Noise Standard Requirements
• Exposure Monitoring vs. Sound Surveys
• Employee Health Record Retention
• Audiometric Testing Requirements
• Worker Training
• Identifying Engineering Controls
• Administrative Controls
• Personal Protective Equipment Selection and Use
Benefits of Effective Hearing Conservation Programs
• Prevention of Direct and Indirect Adverse Impacts of Hearing Loss
• Trained Workers Who Will Maintain Equipment and Controls
• Ongoing Audiometric Testing - Control of Workers' Compensation Costs
• Written Company Policies Encourage Consistency and Support Necessary Disciplinary Action
• Summary of Best Practices
• Resources for Developing Effective Programs