Hearing Conservation Program
To promote hearing conservation through advocating the engineering out of loud noise, and when the noise cannot be engineered out, the recommendation of the proper use of hearing protective devices and other precautionary measures to protect one’s hearing.
All NIH employees whose potential noise exposure equal or exceed an 8-hour time-weighted-average of 85 dBA are eligible for participation in this program. Employees are identified by their supervisors overseeing work areas that have significant noise emission levels.
In accordance with OSHA Regulation 29 CFR 1910.95, Occupational Noise Exposure, the NIH has established a Hearing Conservation Program (HCP). The Technical Assistance Branch (TAB) of the Division of Occupational Health and Safety (DOHS) is responsible for the HCP program. The Occupational Medical Service (OMS) is responsible for the medical surveillance aspect of the program, which includes audiometric testing.
All areas of the NIH where noise levels equal or exceed 80 dBA are identified. In areas where noise levels equal or exceed 85 dBA, "caution" signs are posted to warn employees and visitors to wear hearing protection. In addition, in those areas where the noise levels equal or exceed 85 dBA, employees who work in those areas are monitored to determine if their noise exposure equal or exceed an 8-hour Time-Weighted-Average (TWA) of 85 dBA. If this criterion is met the employees are eligible for inclusion into the HCP. The list of employees is forwarded to OMS for inclusion into the program, which makes them eligible for medical surveillance and other HCP measures.
One element or measure of the NIH HCP is the annual training of employees. This training addresses, at a minimum, (1) the physical effects of noise and hearing loss; (2) hearing protectors selection, fitting, use, and care; (3) audiometric testing; and (4) the role and responsibilities of both employees and workers in preventing noise induced hearing loss.