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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Safety: Hearing Conservation Program
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Hearing Conservation Program

(adapted from Manual 230 - updated: 12/5/2005)

The Hearing Conservation Program is administered by the Area SHEM or through the location's third party occupational medical surveillance provider (where warranted).  Currently, at the USDA-DFRC Research Farm in Prairie du Sac, a Hearing Conservation Program is conducted in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin's Occupational Health provider.

Hearing Conservation Programs are required when Time Weighted Average noise exposures equal or exceed 85 decibels for an 8-hour period, as measured on the slow response scale of a sound-measuring device.  Specific program requirements are found in 29 CFR 1910.95c, Occupational Noise Exposure, which requires protection against the effects of noise exposure when the sound levels exceed permissible levels.

It is REE policy that sound pressure level measurements will be made by qualified personnel using properly calibrated instruments.  When employees are subjected to sound levels exceeding permissible limits, feasible administrative or engineering controls shall be utilized.  If such controls fail to reduce sound levels within the prescribed levels, hearing protection must be provided and used to reduce sound levels to permissible levels.  Such protective devices must provide sufficient noise reduction to control exposure to the hazard.  Only those ear protectors what have been tested in accordance with American National Standards Institute 224.22 will be acceptable.  Ear insert devices must be fitted or determined individually by a competent person.  Prior to purchasing and using PPE, the purchaser, supervisor, and individual wearing the equipment should review Title 29 CFR, Part 1910, Subpart I, and/or Part 1926, Subpart E.

While the Location will make every attempt to identify potential hearing hazards, there may be instances when a new hearing hazard emerges.  Employees are  asked to contact their immediate supervisor and/or the Administrative Officer to report such an event and to take proper precautions to conserve the individuals' hearing and prevent loss.

Last Modified: 3/12/2010
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