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Kansas State University

Hearing conservation program

Long-term exposure to excessive noise leads to permanent, irreparable hearing loss. Many individuals who live and work in noise are reluctant to recognize it as a serious threat or to accept and use personal hearing protection. Noise-induced hearing loss occurs slowly over months or years making it difficult to convince those at risk to guard their sense of hearing. The purpose of the Hearing Conservation Program is to prevent job-related, noise induced, hearing loss in University employees. Work areas of the University which test to be noise hazard areas (exceed the maximum permissible noise exposure for employees) shall enter into the Hearing Protection Program. The three-part program includes testing, training, and hearing protection.

Noise testing and hearing tests. Sound surveys will be conducted once every two years or more frequently as considered appropriate in departments considered noise hazard areas by the Industrial Hygienist. Employees who are exposed to an eight hour time-weighted-average (TWA) of 85 dBA or greater will have their hearing tested annually. Employees exposed to a TWA of 90 dBA or greater noise exposure for eight hours must wear hearing protection. All hearing testing will be conducted in a sound treated audiological test booth in the Kansas State University Speech and Hearing Center under the supervision of a Certified Audiologist. New employees will be tested within six months of employment. Inservice training for employees shall be performed annually. These training sessions will cover the areas of basic audition, anatomy of the ear, noise and noise-induced hearing loss, and the benefits of hearing protection. Scheduling will be coordinated with the involved department, the Division of Public Safety and the Speech and Hearing Center.

Hearing protection. Engineering controls should be instituted to reduce noise levels to reasonable limits where practical. In all areas where noise hazards exist, warning signs should be posted at entrances or on the periphery of those areas. Hearing protection must be worn when the noise level exposure equals or exceeds a TWA 90 dBA. In addition, hearing protective equipment must be available to those exposed to noise levels between 85 and 90 dBA.

The costs for this program including testing, training and hearing protection will be provided by the affected department. The guidelines for hearing conservation can be found in the complete guidelines published by the Division of Public Safety is available from the Division in hard copy.