Hearing Conservation Program FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Workplace Integra is committed to helping America's employers ensure the conservation of hearing for their most important asset—their people. We're pleased to provide answers to some of the frequently asked questions we are asked; please see below. Have a question that isn't listed? Just reach out to us by emailing us here!

Hearing Conservation Programs

  • According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a hearing conservation program is required “whenever employee noise exposures equal or exceed an 8-hour time-weighted average sound level (TWA) of 85 decibels measured on the A scale (slow response) or, equivalently, a dose of fifty percent.”

  • Hearing conservation programs are centered upon ensuring that employees hearing is protected. A hearing conservation program generally includes these core components:

    • Noise measurement and monitoring
    • Audiometric testing
    • Audoigram surveillance (reviews)
    • Hearing protection selection and fit testing
    • Employee training and education
    • Record keeping
    • Program performance evaluation
  • Noise-induced hearing loss is 100% preventable, but when a person’s exposure is not reduced or properly protected against noise, permanent hearing loss can occur. 

  • Hearing aids and surgery cannot correct the damage done to the ear by loud noise.

  • Hearing Conservation Training is required annually for all employees with noise exposures of 85 dBA TWA or greater. The training must orient employees to the purpose and use of hearing protection, along with policy regarding the hearing conservation program.

Regulatory Requirements Related to Hearing Conservation

  • The permissible exposure limit is a legal limit in the United States for exposure of an employee to a chemical substance or physical agent such as high-level noise. Permissible exposure limits are established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. An employee may be exposed to noise up to 90 decibels over an 8-hour time-weighted average; they MUST wear hearing protection at or above this level. Further, an employee must be enrolled in a hearing conservation program when exposed at or above 85 decibels over an 8-hour time-weighted average.

  • 85 dBA
  • If the Noise level exceeds 90 dBA, the OSHA Noise Standard requires that engineering and administrative control measures must be investigated, evaluated, and where feasible, utilized to reduce employee exposures. 

  • When engineering measures are not enough to reduce the noise below 90 dBA, administrative methods may be used to minimize employee exposure. Some of these are:

    • Increasing the distance between the employee and the noise source
    • Scheduling worker rotation from high noise levels to quiet areas
    • Limiting the time for certain operations
    • Relocation of job tasks which may be completed out of high noise areas
    • Restricting access to work areas or operations
  • If you are unable to eliminate or reduce the source of noise by purchasing quieter equipment, you should initiate the following engineering controls:

    • Contact the equipment manufacturer for noise abatement suggestions
    • Dampen or reduce surface vibration
    • Install enclosures or sound insulation materials

Hearing Protection

  • No; everyone has different size ear canals. Each person should be fitted by a competent person to ensure they receive the right size protector. 

  • The usable life of the hearing protection product is dependent upon the care it is given, but a general guideline is: 

    • Sponge plugs: 1 or 2 days
    • Custom plugs: 18-24 months
    • Insert plugs: 4-6 months
    • Muffs: Replace when worn out
  • Yes. Keep ear plugs clean by washing them in warm, soapy water and be sure they are completely dry before inserting into the ears.  Inspect them regularly, and replace with a new pair if they become damaged, hard, or worn out.

Fit Testing for Earplugs

  • Fit testing for earplugs is a process that evaluates the effectiveness of an earplug's fit within the ear canal. This procedure helps ensure that the earplugs provide the maximum level of protection against harmful noise levels, enhancing occupational hearing conservation efforts. Fit testing can be conducted through various methods, including real-ear measurement and field attenuation estimation.

  • Fit testing is crucial for identifying whether an employee is receiving the optimal level of protection from their earplugs. Improperly fitted earplugs may not provide sufficient noise reduction, putting employees at risk of hearing damage. Fit testing also educates employees on how to correctly insert and wear earplugs for maximum protection.

  • Fit testing for earplugs is typically performed using specialized equipment that measures the earplug's attenuation effectiveness in the wearer's ear. This can involve playing a series of test tones or standard noises to the wearer and measuring the sound level in the ear with and without the earplug. The difference in sound levels indicates the earplug's noise reduction rating (NRR) effectiveness for the wearer.

  • Most types of earplugs can undergo fit testing, including foam earplugs, pre-molded earplugs, and custom-molded earplugs. The fit testing process helps ensure that regardless of the type, the earplugs are providing the intended level of hearing protection.

  • It is recommended that fit testing for earplugs be conducted annually or whenever a new type is issued to an employee. Regular fit testing helps account for any changes in the ear canal's shape and ensures the earplugs' ongoing effectiveness.

  • For more information on scheduling fit testing for earplugs, visit Workplace INTEGRA's IntegraFit webpage. Here, you can find details on how to arrange for a professional fit testing session and ensure your employees are properly protected against occupational noise hazards.

CAOHC Certification

  • The Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC) certification is a recognized standard for individuals who conduct audiometric testing and play a role in hearing conservation programs. It aims to improve the quality of hearing conservation programs through educational and certification initiatives.

  • Professionals involved in occupational hearing conservation programs, including audiologists, occupational health nurses, safety professionals, and others responsible for conducting audiometric testing or managing hearing conservation efforts, should consider getting CAOHC certified.

  • The CAOHC certification is valid for five years. After this period, certified individuals must recertify to maintain their certification and demonstrate their ongoing commitment to best practices in hearing conservation.

  • Obtaining CAOHC certification involves completing a CAOHC-approved course in hearing conservation and passing the associated examination. These courses cover critical aspects of hearing conservation programs, including audiometric testing, noise measurement, and hearing protection.

  • There are no formal prerequisites for enrolling in a CAOHC certification course. However, individuals typically have a background or interest in occupational health, safety, or related fields.

  • CAOHC-approved courses are offered throughout the year by various providers. You can find a course near you by visiting the CAOHC website and checking their course listings or contacting workplace health and safety training providers.

Private CAOHC Training

  • Yes, private CAOHC training sessions can be arranged for a specific workplace or organization. These tailored sessions offer the flexibility to meet unique operational schedules and focus on specific hearing conservation needs or challenges faced by the organization.

  • Private CAOHC training provides several benefits, including the ability to customize the curriculum to address the particular needs of your workplace, scheduling flexibility to accommodate your team, and the opportunity for team members to engage and learn in a familiar environment with their peers. This setting often enhances learning outcomes and promotes a collective approach to hearing conservation.

  • The minimum number of participants required for a private CAOHC training session may vary depending on the provider. It's best to contact the training provider directly to discuss specific requirements and minimum group sizes.

  • While private CAOHC training offers many advantages, it may come with additional costs to cover the instructor's travel and accommodation expenses, venue hire if applicable, and potentially customized materials. It's important to obtain a detailed quote from the provider to understand all associated costs.

  • Organizations interested in arranging private CAOHC training should contact a CAOHC-approved course provider directly. Providers like Workplace INTEGRA offer custom in-house training and can provide further information on how to proceed with organizing a session tailored to your needs. Visit their website or contact their training coordinator for detailed information and to start the process.

  • Yes, the CAOHC certification obtained upon successful completion of a private training session is recognized in the same manner as certification from public courses. All participants who pass the examination will receive a CAOHC certification valid for five years, irrespective of the training format.

Public CAOHC Training

Virtual CAOHC Training

Mobile Hearing Testing Services

  • Mobile hearing testing services are on-site audiological evaluations conducted using a state-of-the-art mobile testing unit. These services are designed to offer convenient, efficient, and comprehensive hearing tests directly at the workplace or a specified location, facilitating compliance with occupational health and safety regulations.

  • Implementing mobile hearing testing services can significantly benefit your company by ensuring compliance with occupational health regulations, reducing the downtime associated with off-site testing, and promoting a culture of health and safety. It also offers a cost-effective solution for conducting mass hearing screenings without the need for employees to travel.

  • Our mobile testing units are equipped with the latest audiometric testing equipment, meeting or exceeding current ANSI and OSHA standards. This includes soundproof testing booths and computerized audiometers, ensuring accurate and reliable test results.

  • The duration of a hearing test can vary depending on several factors, including the individual's hearing condition and the number of employees being tested. Generally, each test is relatively quick, taking approximately 10 to 15 minutes per person.

  • Following the completion of mobile hearing testing, you will receive a comprehensive report detailing the test results for each employee. This report includes individual audiograms, summaries of hearing test outcomes, and recommendations for follow-up actions if necessary.

  • Scheduling mobile hearing testing services is straightforward. Visit https://www.workplaceintegra.com/on-site-mobile-audiometric-testing to learn more about our services and schedule a session. Our team will work with you to find a convenient time and date that fits your company's schedule.

  • Yes, all our mobile hearing testing services are fully compliant with OSHA regulations and guidelines. Our services are designed to help your company meet the necessary occupational health standards for hearing conservation and noise exposure.