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OSHA mandates that employers are required to provide annual audiometric testing for employees exposed to 85 decibels or greater in an 8 hour time weighted average.  If you provide hearing protection to control your employees’ noise exposure you must provide annual audiometric testing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common workplace injury is hearing loss. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the most common work-related injury, with approximately 22 million workers exposed annually to hazardous levels of occupational noise. Workers in the mining sector, followed by those in construction and manufacturing, are most likely to suffer from hearing impairment. According to the Department of Labor, an estimated $242 million is spent on worker’s compensation annually for hearing loss disability.

OSHA mandates that employers are required to provide annual audiometric testing for employees exposed to 85 decibels or greater in an 8 hour time weighted average.  If you provide hearing protection to control your employees’ noise exposure you must provide annual audiometric testing.

Maximize Audiogram Accuracy

To maximize the accuracy and to ensure valid audiometric testing:

  • Employee should not be exposed to workplace noise for 14 hours prior to testing.
  • For workers who have audiometric testing conducted during their work shift, hearing protection may be used to meet the “no noise” requirement.
  • Employees should also avoid high volume, non-occupational noise levels 14 hours prior to testing.  These activities include: grass cutting, loud television or radio, motorcycle riding, use of firearms or other activities that generate noise in excess of 85 dB.
  • Employees with a build-up of earwax or a history of wax impaction should clean their ears prior to presenting for the hearing test.

Importance of Employee Awareness & Training

Employers should enforce and remind their employees the day before and the day of their scheduled audiometric test to take necessary precautionary measures ensuring they limit their noise exposure.  By doing so the audiogram will be more valid and repeat testing may become unnecessary.  Employee training is very important. Workers who understand the reasons for the hearing conservation program – and the need to protect their hearing – will be more motivated to wear their hearing protection.

When audiometric testing is required for employees, it is recommended that employers ensure the audiometric service provider complies with the relevant requirements of AS/NZS 1269.4:2005 – Occupational noise management – Auditory assessment and CFR 1910.95.  Employers need to ensure testing is accurate and carried out by an appropriately certified audiometric technician.

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