DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2004-101
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This checklist is based on regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the general industry standard 29 CFR 1910.95. For noise exposure at constructions sites, please use the checklist entitled Noise, Radiation, and Other Exposures for Construction. These regulations are not designed to cover nuisance noise exposure (e.g. ambient noise, road traffic, etc.). They are designed to protect against hearing loss and apply to situations in which noise levels equal or exceed 85 dBA as an 8-hour time-weighted-average. The OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for noise is 90 dBA. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), however, recommends a different, more protective standard to prevent hearing loss. Please contact NIOSH (1-800-35-NIOSH) for information on their recommendations. The regulations cited apply only to private employers and their employees, unless adopted by a State agency and applied to other groups such as public employees. A yes answer to a question indicates that this portion of the inspection complies with the OSHA or EPA standard, or with a nonregulatory recommendation. Definitions of terms in bold type are provided at the end of the checklist.
Questions marked with this symbol may require the help of an outside expert.
Noise-generating operations, processes, and equipment to which people are exposed may cause hearing loss depending on the intensity and duration of exposure. Noisy machinery does not automatically mean a problem exists. As a general rule, if normal conversation is difficult between two people standing at arms length, further investigation is warranted. If noise problems are suspected, a formal evaluation by a qualified person, such as an industrial hygienist, is recommended to determine compliance. The questions below provide general guidance in evaluating your lab, shop or classroom.
- Have all operations or equipment believed to exceed an 8 hour time-weighted avergage of 85 dBA been measured to determine their noise levels? [29 CFR 1910.95(d)(1)]
- If noise levels from operations or equipment equal or exceed 85 dBA, has personal noise dosimetry been performed on exposed persons to determine their 8-hour time-weighted-averages? [29 CFR 1910.95(d)(1)(ii)]
- Does the school administer a continuing, effective hearing conservation program when noise exposures equal or exceed 85 dBA as an 8-hour time- weighted-average? [29 CFR 1910.95(c)
- Are hearing protectors available at no cost to all persons exposed to noise levels at or above 85 dBA as an 8-hour time-weighted-average? [29 CFR 1910.95(i)(1)]
- Have feasible engineering or administrative controls been used to reduce operation or equipment noise levels to below 90 dBA as an 8-hour time- weighted-average? [29 CFR 1910.95(b)(1)]
- Are noise measurements repeated when a change in operations or equipment may increase noise exposure? [29 CFR 1910.95(d)(3)]
- Are employees permitted to observe noise measurements? [29 CFR 1910.95(f)]
- Are employees notified of noise monitoring results when exposures equal or exceed 85 dBA as an 8-hour time-weighted-average? [29 CFR 1910.95(e)]
- Are hearing protectors evaluated to verify that they effectively reduce noise to levels below 85 dBA as an 8-hour time-weighted-average? [29 CFR 1910.95(j)(1)]
- Are noise measurement records maintained for at least two years? [29 CFR 1910.95(m)(3)(i)]
- Are employees’ hearing test records maintained for the duration of matriculation or employment? [29 CFR 1910.95(m)(i)]
- Is a copy of the OSHA noise standard available to employees or students, with a copy posted in the classroom or work area? [29 CFR 1910.95(l)(1)]
- If noise measurements indicate an 8-hour time- weighted-average of 85 dBA or greater, is a training program given that covers the effects of noise on hearing; the purpose of hearing protection and how to use it; and the purpose of audiometric testing? [29 CFR 1910.95(k)(3)(i),(ii),and (iii)]
- If noise measurements indicate an 8-hour time- weighted-average of 85 dBA or greater, are baseline and annual audiometric tests given at no cost to employees or students using properly calibrated testing equipment? [29 CFR 1910.95 (g)(1),(2),(3),(4),and(h)]
- Are audiometric tests preceded by at least 14 hours without career-technical or occupational noise exposure? [29 CFR 1910.95(g)(5)(iii)]
- Are audiometric tests conducted by a licensed or certified audiologist; otolaryngologist, or other physician; or by a technician who is certified by the Council of Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation or who has demonstrated competence in administering audiometric tests? [29 CFR 1910.95(g)(3)]
- If audiometric tests show hearing loss due to noise exposure at work, are procedures in place for appropriate referrals, mandatory use of hearing protection, and training? [29 CFR 1910.95(g)(8)(ii)(a)(b),and(c)]
- Do all students or employees exposed to 85 dBA or above as an 8-hour time-weighted-average receive hearing conservation training when they begin work and annually thereafter? [29 CFR 1910.95(k)(1)and(2)]
8-hour time-weighted average: an average exposure weighted to account for time and changing noise levels throughout an 8-hour day.
Administrative controls: reducing the period of personal noise exposure by job rotation or adding periods of quiet to the work day or work process such that the 8-hour time-weighted-average noise level does not exceed permissible limits.
dBA: noise levels in decibels measured with a sound level meter set to the A scale. The A scale simulates how humans hear noise levels at different frequencies.
Permissible exposure limit (PEL): an employee’s exposure limit to an airborne concentration of a substance which OSHA/USDOL publishes and enforces. It is expressed as an 8-hr time-weighted average (TWA). PELs are protective limits that shall not be exceeded.