/policies/,/policies/administrative/,/policies/administrative/uwhc/,/policies/administrative/uwhc/uwhc-wide/,/policies/administrative/uwhc/uwhc-wide/environmental-safety/,

/policies/administrative/uwhc/uwhc-wide/environmental-safety/1256.policy

20170104

page

100

UWHC,UWMF,

Policies,Administrative,UWHC,UWHC-wide,Environmental Safety

Hearing Conservation Program (12.56)

Hearing Conservation Program (12.56) - Policies, Administrative, UWHC, UWHC-wide, Environmental Safety

12.56

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Administrative (Non-Clinical) Policy
As of January 1, 2017, this administrative policy applies to the operations and staff of legacy
UWHC. Effective July 1, 2015, the legacy operations and staff of UWHC and UWMF were integrated
into the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority (UWHCA). All administrative policies
are being transitioned to apply UWHCA-wide, but until future revision to this policy # 12.56, it applies
only to the operations and staff of legacy UWHC.

Policy Title: Hearing Conservation Program
Policy Number: 12.56
Effective Date: January 1, 2017
Chapter: Environmental Safety
Version: Revision
I. POLICY

It is the policy of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) that the employees working
in areas where noise levels exceed 85 dBA are enrolled in the hearing conservation program. These
individuals will have their hearing evaluated by an Audiologist upon hire, annually and within 1 week
prior to the date of termination.

II. PURPOSE

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Department of Commerce require a
hearing conservation program (OSHA Noise regulation 29 (CFR) 1910.95) when measured noise levels
exceed 85 dBA.
A. A hearing conservation program has 5 components:
1. Noise monitoring
2. Hearing protection
3. Record keeping
4. Hearing Testing
5. Employee training
B. A list of problem areas identified at UWHC will be kept with the Safety and Hazard Control
Manager.
C. Employees already working in these areas and newly hired employees (within 1 month of hire),
who will be working in these areas will be enrolled in the hearing conservation program.
SELECTED DEFINITIONS

Hearing protectors - ear muffs, ear caps, and ear plugs

OSHA Noise Regulation 29 (CFR) 1910.95 - indicate limits for occupational noise exposure, and
requirements if those levels are exceeded. This regulation defines an "action level" as a dose of 50%,
which is equivalent to an eight hour time weighted average of 85 dBA.

Standard threshold shift - is a change in hearing threshold relative to the baseline audiogram of an

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average of 10 dB or more at 2000, 3000, and 4000 Hz in either ear.

Audiometric test requirements - Audiometric tests shall be pure tone, air conduction, hearing threshold
examinations, with test frequencies including as a minimum 500, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, and 6000 Hz.
Tests at each frequency shall be taken separately for each ear.

III. PROCEDURE
A. Problem Area Identification and Monitoring
1. Noise measurements will be made anytime there is a change in equipment or controls in
accordance with OSHA Noise Regulations.
2. Staff working in or with areas/items identified as "problem areas" MUST WEAR noise
protection devises.
3. Other areas in the system may request noise measurements to be made by contacting the
Employee Health Service. Recommendations will then be made to those areas.
B. Hearing Testing and Monitoring
1. Baseline Audiograms -
a. Baseline testing will be done on all people hired to work in areas specified in
1.B., within 1 month of starting a work assignment.
b. Testing will be done on employees already working in those areas. The initial test
will be considered a baseline.
c. Baseline testing will include air conduction thresholds in both ears at frequencies
500, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, and 6000 Hz in accordance with OSHA
regulations.
d. Employees will not be exposed to any noise for 12 hours before testing. Hearing
protection may not be used in lieu of quiet.
e. Employees and the Employee Health Service will be given a copy of test results
and recommendations.
C. Audiologic Monitoring - Yearly Monitoring tests should be performed on noise exposed workers
at the end or late in their work shift to identify any temporary threshold shift (TTS).
1. Employees with hearing sensitivity considered to be unimpaired (25 dB average for 1000,
2000, and 3000 Hz) according to OSHA specifications will be tested yearly.
2. Employees not experiencing a significant threshold shift ( 15 dB at any frequency if pure
tone average is greater than or equal to 25 dB in either ear by two consecutive tests). If a
significant shift is recorded, immediate retesting (including repositioning headphones,
inserts, reinstructing) is recommended to be sure the shift is real. If the shift has been
confirmed after repositioning and reinstructing, there will be another confirmatory test 30
days after the change is noted. This test will be preceded by 12 hours of quiet and hearing
protection may not be used in lieu of quiet. If a change is confirmed, this will act as the
new baseline. The employee as well as the Safety Director will be notified of the change.
3. Employees will not be exposed to any noise for 12 hours before testing. Hearing
protection may not be used in lieu of quiet.
4. Employees and the Employee Health Service will be given a copy of test results and
recommendations.
D. Audiology Monitoring at Termination
1. Termination Audiology testing will be done on all employees working in areas specified
in 1.B., during the 1 week time period prior to the date of termination.
2. Employees with hearing sensitivity considered to be unimpaired (25 dB average for 1000,
2000, 3000 HZ) according to OSHA specifications will be tested at this time.

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3. Employees not experiencing a significant threshold shift (15 dB at any frequency if pure
tone average is greater than or equal to 25 dB) compared to their previous evaluation will
be tested at this time.
4. Employees will not be exposed to any noise for 12 hours before testing. Hearing
protection may not be used in lieu of quiet.
5. Employees and Employee Health Services will be given a copy of test results.
E. Audiologic Monitoring - 1 year and six month testing.
1. Employees with material hearing impairment (i.e., greater than 25 dB average for 1000,
2000 and 3000 Hz) will be tested every year.
2. Employees with significant threshold shifts (STS) compared to the baseline exam will be
tested every 6 months. If (STS) is noted:
a. Notify employee
b. Recheck audiologic exam within 30 days
c. If STS is permanent, notify employee within 21 days of test. (If no further STS,
the employee can return to annual audiology testing)
3. Employees will not be noise exposed for 12 hours before testing. Hearing protection may
not be used in lieu of quiet.
4. Employees and the Employee Health Service will be given a copy of test results and
recommendations.
F. Criteria for Otologic Referral
1. Audiology Criteria
a. Baseline audiogram - Average hearing level at 500,1000, 2000, and 3000 Hz
greater than 25 dB in either ear.
b. Difference in average hearing level between the better and poorer ears of:
i. more than 15 dB at 500,1000 and 2000 Hz OR
ii. more than 30 dB at 3000, 4000 and 6000 Hz
c. Periodic audiograms - Change for the worse in average hearing level, in either
ear, compared to baseline audiogram of:
i. more than 15 dB at 500, 1000 and 2000 Hz O
ii. more than 20 dB at 3000, 4000 and 6000 Hz
2. Medical Criteria
a. History of ear pain, drainage, dizziness, sever persistent tinnitus; sudden,
fluctuating or rapidly progressive hearing loss; or a feeling of fullness or
discomfort in one or both ears within the preceding 12 months.
b. Visible evidence of cerumen accumulation or a foreign body in the ear canal. On
baseline testing eardrum must be visible. On periodic (annual) testing, the
cerumen must be removed if a change or STS is noted.
G. Recommendations for Use of Ear Protectors
1. Mandatory Use of Ear Protectors
a. Ear protectors are required when working within the area listed in I.B., according
to OSHA because of the excessive noise levels. Noise protection devices (ear
muffs/ear plugs) are available through the area supervisor.
b. Ear protectors are also mandatory for all employees who exhibit significant
threshold shifts. Continued threshold shifts require removing the employee from
the noise exposure.
c. Ear protection will be furnished by the department at no cost to the employee.
Custom plugs will be considered on an individual basis.
2. Recommended Use of Ear Protectors
a. Ear protectors are recommended during periods of equipment operation in all
areas listed in I.B. These are considered to be "gray areas" of noise level in which
noise levels may 85 dBA.

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b. Existing standards do not protect all people from hearing loss due to noise
exposure. Therefore, the use of ear protectors by all employees in listed areas is
strongly recommended.
c. Ear protection will be furnished by the department at no cost to the employee.
Custom plugs will be considered on an individual basis.
H. Employee Education
1. Written informational brochures will be given yearly to the all staff working in all areas
listed in 1 B.
I. Billing
1. The Employee Health Service will cover the cost of baseline and annual routine
audiology screening of employees enrolled in the Hearing Conservation Program and the
cost of any additional or comprehensive Audiology testing required.
J. Record Keeping
1. File original audiogram in Employees' Employee Health Chart, the employee will also
receive a copy.
2. The tracking of employee Audiology Screenings will be done per the HRIS computer
system. All staff working in areas listed in 1.B. will be entered into the "Hear" program.
Audiology Screening Notices will be generated for baseline, annual, prior to termination
and any additional screenings that are required.
3. Audiograms will be kept for duration of employment plus 30 years.
4. Utilization of the OSHA 200 log is not a requirement of a Hearing Conservation
Program; however, if an employee experiences a significant threshold shift of 25 dB,
OSHA can site for failure to record on the log. If 10-25 dB significant threshold shift
occurs Legal Counsel will be contacted to determine if this should be noted on the OSHA
200 log.
IV. REFERENCES

Federal Register - OSHA - Occupational Noise Exposure; Hearing Conservation Amendment; Final Rule,
March 8 1993
Meriter’ s Hearing Conservation Program
Occupationally Speaking - "Your Hearing Conservation Program" Eighteenth Edition, March 1996
Hearing Conservation Pamphlet - U.S. Department of Labor Occupational
Safety and Health Administration OSHA 3074 (Reprinted) 1987
Royster, JD (1992). Evaluation of different criteria for significant threshold shift in occupational hearing
conversation programs, Raleigh, NC: Environmental Noise Consultants, Inc. NTIS No. PB93-15943
Royster JD (1996) Evaluation of additional criteria for significant threshold shift in occupational hearing
conservation programs Raleigh, NC: Environmental Noise Consultants, Inc., NTIS No. PB97-104392













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V. COORDINATION

Sr. Management Sponsor: VP, Facilities & Support Services
Author: Director, Safety
Reviewer: Employee Health Services

Approval Committee(s): UW Health Environment of Care Safety Committee; UW Health Administrative
Policy and Procedure Committee

SIGNED BY

Elizabeth Bolt
UW Health Chief Administrative Officer


Revision Detail

Previous revision: 012014
Next revision: 012018