Industrial Hearing Screening
Hearing screening is very important for those often around loud noise. Hearing damage is a real effect of long-term exposure to loud noise.
Hearing damage from noise is fully preventable when you take the right precautions from the start. Regular screening tests show any early signs of hearing loss. They also show everyday protection measures. For instance, the use of ear plugs go a long way toward preventing permanent hearing loss.
Industrial Hearing Test Requirements
Organizations such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have requirements and procedures for hearing conservation. They did so in an effort to standardize hearing safety practices and reduce hearing damage. Some states also have their own guidelines, as well as the Department of Defense.
In most cases, OSHA requires employees who are around a time weighted average (TWA) of 85 dB be part of a hearing conservation program. This includes hearing testing and employee training. Industrial manufacturers must report evaluation results. There is a list of official hearing conservation standards in OSHA CFR 29 1910.95 & MSHA Part 62.
Industrial Hearing Conservation Programs
Some companies choose to meet these requirements on their own. However, most companies choose to hire out a hearing conservation company to conduct hearing evaluations, keep records, and make sure they comply with all safety standards.
Failure to test and/or report noise exposure levels and the impact on employees can cost companies thousands in legal fees and federal fines. Hiring a company to make sure they are in complete compliance is worth it in the long run.
Hearing conservation companies usually have mobile hearing evaluation units . These units travel and perform on-site hearing screening evaluations. They are typically staffed by a hearing specialist and/or an Occupational Hearing Conservationist (OHC, also known as an Industrial Audiometric Technician).
OHC Technicians are certified by the Council of Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC) and are supervised by an hearing specialist or physician. They train to conduct hearing conservation procedures including pure-tone air conduction hearing testing. Their training is very specific to job settings only and does not apply in non-occupational practices.
Education and Referrals
OHC Technicians train to detect possible indications of early hearing loss and provide training for employees. If they detect a possible hearing problem, the technician refers the employee for further tests by a hearing specialist.
Basic education and training for employees may include how to properly fit and wear hearing protection devices. Some employees may require custom hearing protection. Environmental changes on the part of the employer may also be in order.
OHC technicians are not qualified to independently evaluate hearing conservation program effectiveness or conduct noise surveys and analyses. And so, you will need to hire a company to design a program that will fit company needs.
Hearing evaluations are an important part of keeping industrial working places safe for employees. Each company will need to find industrial hearing screening solutions that work for them.