Many people can't imagine going through life without their hearing. However, for workers in industries like yours, that can easily become a reality--and workplace safety makes all the difference. Here's a closer look at hearing loss prevention and training.
Hearing Loss Prevention & OSHA Compliance
Hearing loss prevention matters to both employees and employers. It's a team effort--one that must be undertaken carefully and accurately to protect workers' long-term health. Just as importantly, however, hearing loss prevention is necessary for OSHA compliance.
A Hearing Conservation Amendment was added to the OSHA Occupational Noise Exposure Standard in 1983. The requirements were simple: You must implement a hearing conservation program if workplace noise exposures equal or exceed a specific amount. According to the CDC, this amount is an 8-hour, time-weighted average sound level of 85 dBA.
Later, in 1996, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a guide to help employers implement OSHA-required programs. The guide outlined three main points:
- Prevent or contain noise at its source via engineering controls.
- Limit exposure by relocating workers via administrative controls.
- Create barriers between workers and noise via personal protective equipment (PPE).
As the CDC explains, these guidelines support one basic approach: "The best of all prevention strategies is to have no exposure to agents that can cause or contribute to hearing loss."
To make this happen, OSHA and NIOSH have also outlined eight components of a successful hearing loss prevention program:
- Noise exposure monitoring.
- Engineering and administrative controls.
- Audiometric evaluation.
- Hearing protection devices.
- Education and motivation.
- Record keeping.
- Program evaluation.
- Program audit.
In addition to these programs, you can also make improvements to your workplace safety approach by rethinking everyday processes. For example, you might set up control rooms far away from sources of noise pollution, allowing employees to complete tasks using remote controls or automated tools.
Workplace Safety Training for Hearing Loss Prevention
Another--and perhaps most effective or achievable--solution is to implement workplace safety training. This ensures that both the employee and the employer understand the hearing loss risks in their workplace. It also enables both parties to take steps toward reducing exposure or making improvements. Here's what to know:
What does workplace safety training look like?
Workplace safety training comes in many forms depending on your industry, needs, and goals. In general, you connect with a professional trainer or company who explains best practices for an online or in-person hearing loss prevention training session. For example, you'll learn:
- Course length.
- Which employees should attend.
- What resources will be used.
- Which interactive opportunities will be offered.
- What materials will be used.
- Which points will be covered.
This helps you plan around the course or courses so you can get the most from the learning opportunity.
What are the benefits of workplace safety training?
Workplace safety training has a long list of benefits, especially when it comes to hearing loss prevention. Here are just a few examples:
- Information: Employees might not know the most up-to-date OSHA guidelines or NIOSH breakdowns. A training course helps get them all on the same page at the same time.
- Empowerment: When workers have the right information, they can make decisions that protect their own safety and others'. That protects your workplace and business, too.
- Understanding: Workplace safety training also helps you understand which responsibilities fall on you and which belong with your employees.
- Communication: If you or your workers have questions--either about OSHA standards or for one another--this is the perfect chance to voice them.
What courses are available for hearing loss prevention?
At Northwest Safety, we offer two hearing loss prevention courses:
Noise and Hearing Conservation for General Industry Online Course
This intermediate-level course covers information relevant to a wide variety of industries. You'll learn about workplace hearing loss from multiple perspectives, including exposure, noise sources, control, and protection. The course content is based on OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.95 for General Industry and 29 CFR 1926./
Noise and Hearing Protection for Construction Online Course
This course, also intermediate, focuses on construction workplaces. OSHA standards guide the information in the course, especially when it comes to PPE. You and your employees will learn how to prevent hearing injuries by providing and utilizing the right PPE in the right scenarios.
Hearing loss is a serious, long-term health consideration--one faced by far too many workers. The good news is that, by following OSHA and NIOSH recommendations, it's possible to reduce noise exposure, prevent hearing injuries, and still run an efficient workplace. That's partly due to improvements and processes on the job, but it also requires the right information--and that's where workplace safety training comes in.
Contact us today to learn more about hearing loss and workplace safety training.