The Illinois State University Hearing Conservation Program (HCP) is designed to ensure that University employees are adequately protected from the harmful effects of high noise levels on campus. The HCP consists of five basic components: noise monitoring, audiometric testing, employee training, hearing protection, and recordkeeping.
Noise monitoring has been conducted with the use of sound level meters and noise dosimeters to identify High Noise Areas [defined as those areas with noise levels exceeding an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) of 85 dBA] or work tasks which, by their nature, create noise levels above the TWA of 85 dBA. All identified High Noise Areas on campus have been posted with signage. The sign identifies the location as a HIGH NOISE AREA and also indicates the length of time employees may work in that specific location in order to prevent occupational hearing loss (based on actual noise levels measured in that area). Personnel who are assigned work tasks where noise levels have been measured in excess of the 85 dBA threshold are advised as part of the annual training that hearing protection is required whenever performing this work.
Certain trades and work groups on campus are expected to be exposed to high noise levels simply due to the nature of their work. Identified trades and work groups require that specific administrative control measures be taken, such as annual training and annual audiograms. Two essential elements of the program include testing and tracking employee hearing and educating the employees about their hearing and the need to protect it. The required training includes the effects of noise, the purpose, advantages, disadvantages and attenuation characteristics of hearing protection, and the purpose and procedures of audiometric testing. Specific work activities in which these groups perform and have been found to exceed 85dBA are shared with affected employees during annual training. When involved in these listed activities, employees are required to wear hearing protection. In addition, when employees in these groups are working in posted High Noise Areas, they may remain in the area longer than the posted time limit – but must wear hearing protection.
All University employees in high risk work groups are required to wear hearing protection in the form of ear plugs and/or ear muffs when engaged in activities involving high noise levels or assigned to work in High Noise Areas past the posted time constraints. Employees are provided this personal protective equipment and trained in its use. This equipment is also made available to other employees who choose to wear it in situations where hearing protection is not warranted, but its use provides them a sense of comfort in reducing noise levels. Hearing protection is utilized whenever engineering or administrative control measures are inadequate or not feasible.
EHS retains noise monitoring and audiometric evaluation records for affected employees. A list of departments and their respective recordkeeping responsibilities are located in the Hearing Conservation Program.
If you have any questions about the Hearing Conservation Program, or if you would like to review your operation for possible inclusion the program, contact Environmental Health and Safety at (309) 438-8325 or firstname.lastname@example.org.