Linda S. Frye, MPH RN COHN-S
Constance M. Tatman, MS RN CCM COHN-S
CAOHC Representatives of the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
Congratulations! You have attended the CAOHC course, passed the exam, applied for and received CAOHC certification as a hearing conservation technician (COHC). You have returned to your work site and you are eager to implement or revise your hearing conservation program.
You are aware that the purpose of a Hearing Conservation program is to protect employee's hearing and to comply with Federal Standard OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95.
To avoid common pitfalls, adhere to the following:
The protocol should include the following program components:
A. Noise monitoring and employee notification of monitoring results
B. Audiometric Testing Program
Baseline audiometric exam
Annual audiometric exam
Written follow-up of test results to employees
C. Audiometric Evaluation
What to do if a work-related STS (standard threshold shift) is identified
Confirm the standard threshold shift within 30 days by retesting
D. Proper use of hearing protection
E. Documented training program
Access to information and training material
F. Record keeping, Record Retention, Access to Records
G. Address in writing how your program will handle presbycusis
A. Keep an accurate record of all employee exposure measurements
B. Retain area noise exposure measurement records for 2 years
C. Obtain and retain employee audiometric test records for the duration of the affected employee's employment and for 30 years post employment.
Include in this record:
Name and job classification of employee
Date of audiogram
Examiner's name and CAOHC certification number
Date of last acoustic calibration of audiometer
D. Keep a written chronological log that the audiometer was calibrated and by whom before each day's use. Calibration can be done using a biological ear followed by a human listening check of the headset or by testing a person with known stable hearing.
E. Keep accurate records of measurements of background sound pressure levels in audiometric test rooms.
The goal is to see the tympanic membrane. Employees with impacted cerumen, drainage and/or significant congestion may not test well. Refer these employees to their primary care provider or your supervisor (a physician, otolaryngologist, or audiologist).
Within 6 days of determination that a work-related (STS) Standard Threshold Shift has occurred record as occupational
hearing loss in column 7 of the OSHA 200 log
Make sure functional and calibrated sampling equipment is used.
When documenting results, compare the results to the appropriate action level (AL) and permissible exposure limit (PEL). If the work shift is other than 8 hours in length, you need to adjust the AL and PEL.
Document the results, recommendations and follow-up actions.
Facilitate IH monitoring any time a change in the workplace occurs that may alter operator exposure to noise.
Hearing protection is required for: employees who are exposed to an 8 hour time-weight average (TWA) of 85 dB(A) or greater and who have not had a baseline audiogram or who have experienced an STS, and employees who are exposed to an 8 hour TWA of 90 dB(A) or greater.
Provide a variety of hearing protection at no cost to the employee
Inform employees of the purpose, advantages and disadvantages of hearing protection
Train the employees how to select, fit and care for hearing protection
This electronic data maintenance will save you time, provide ready documentation for an OSHA inspector, and will organize the necessary information for medical surveillance. Include these points in your database:
Area and personal exposure level
Names of exposed employees and their ID number
Test Date of baseline exam
Test results of last annual exam
(STS) Standard Threshold Shift - if there is any
Necessary follow-up actions
Off the shelf IH monitoring data bases are available from software suppliers. There are vendors who will manage and evaluate data.
Stay informed by reading this publication, the UPDATE, or you can access the Federal OSHA web page at: http://www.osha-slc.gov/SLTC/noisehearingconservation/index.html