At the NIH, we promote hearing conservation through advocating the engineering out of loud noise. When the noise cannot be engineered out, we recommend the proper use of hearing protective devices and other precautionary measures to protect your hearing.
In accordance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regulation 29 CFR 1910.95, Occupational Noise Exposure, the NIH has established a Hearing Conservation Program. The Office of Research Services (ORS), Division of Occupational Health and Safety (DOHS) manages the Hearing Conservation Program. The Occupational Medical Service (OMS) is responsible for the medical surveillance aspect of the program, including audiometric testing.
All NIH employees whose potential noise exposure is equal to or exceeds the action level (AL) of 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.
All areas at the NIH where noise levels equal or exceed 80 dBA are identified. In areas where noise levels equal or exceed the AL, "caution" signs are posted to warn employees and visitors to wear hearing protection. In addition, in areas where the noise levels equal or exceed the AL, personal noise exposure to employees is monitored to determine eligibility for inclusion in the Hearing Conservation Program. OMS is notified of eligible employees to ensure they receive medical surveillance and other hearing conservation measures.
The Hearing Conservation Program provides annual training to employees. This training addresses:
The physical effects of noise and hearing loss;
Hearing protectors selection, fitting, use, and care;
Audiometric testing; and
The role and responsibilities of both employees and workers in preventing noise induced hearing loss.