When noise levels surpass the jurisdiction's occupational exposure limit, eight jurisdictions specifically demand the implementation of a hearing conservation program (four jurisdictions: Federal, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island). Over 85 dBA of noise (three jurisdictions: Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Saskatchewan). There is too much noise (one jurisdiction: Alberta). Six jurisdictions don't have a hearing conservation program as a mandatory requirement (Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Yukon). However, in accordance with occupational health and safety laws across Canada, companies are required to create a secure working environment and to take all necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of their staff members and other people in the workplace. This obligation is called due diligence. When necessary, an employer should develop and implement a hearing conservation program in collaboration with the health and safety committee (or representative) in order to conduct due diligence. To find out additional information, contact your jurisdiction.
When should you consider a hearing conservation program?
According to CSA Standard Z107.56 Measurement of Noise Exposure, the employer should conduct a noise assessment at the workplace if: a worker is or is expected to be exposed to noise in excess of 80 dBA the workplace has had an alteration, renovation, or repair, new equipment has been installed, or a work process has undergone a modification that could significantly alter a worker's exposure to noise. Note that different jurisdictions may have different requirements for when to do noise assessments (e.g., dBA level). More security is offered when an assessment is performed at 80 dBA of the action level. For further information, please refer to the OHS Answers publication Noise - Measurement of Workplace Noise.
What components make up a program for protecting hearing?
A hearing conservation program should be created and put into place if noise monitoring shows that workers are exposed to noise levels at or above 85 dBA. A policy and procedure are part of the program. The following components should be included in a hearing conservation program, according to the CSA Standard Z1007 Hearing Loss Prevention Program Management: Identifying risks and keeping an eye on exposure Control strategies (using the hierarchy of controls) gadgets that protect the ears (selection, use, and maintenance) audiometric evaluation Hazard disclosure, instruction, and training maintaining of records, ongoing evaluation, and improvement (program review). For more details, please refer to the OSH Answers publication Guide to Writing an OHS Policy Statement.
How ought noise exposure to be managed?
Before providing hearing protection equipment, the employer should ensure that, to the extent practicable, steps are done to lower noise levels utilizing the hierarchy of controls in the following order: Get rid of the danger engineering oversight Equipment substitution and administrative controls. For further details, please go to OSH Answers Noise - Control Measures.
When should people use hearing protection devices?
When noise levels are at or above 85 dBA, the majority of jurisdictions mandate that employers supply hearing protection equipment. Additionally, the value of 85 dBA is based on best practices recommended by groups like the Centers for Disease Control. When engineering controls or administrative controls are impractical or do not effectively reduce noise exposure to acceptable levels, the CSA Standards Z94.2 Hearing Protection Devices - Performance, Selection, Care, and Use and Z1007 Hearing Loss Prevention Program Management advise the use of hearing protection devices (i.e., below 85 dBA).
When hearing protection is required, what steps should be taken?
The employer is responsible for ensuring that the choice, maintenance, and application of hearing protection equipment adhere to the requirements of CSA Standard Z94.2.
The employer is responsible for ensuring that any employee utilizing hearing protection is properly taught and instructed in its selection, fit, usage, care, maintenance, and inspection by a qualified individual.
The decision to wear hearing protection is a personal one that is influenced by a variety of elements, such as acoustics, comfort, and the hearing protector's suitability for the worker and the surrounding environment. When feasible, offer a variety of protection types where they are required. Choice stimulates use, and protection is only effective if it is applied correctly and regularly. Anatomical variations in the ear and ear canal make comfort and personal preference crucial. For more details, please refer to the OSH Answers on Hearing Protectors.
When is an audiometric evaluation required?
An essential component of the hearing conservation program is audiometry. It is the sole means to establish whether or not a hearing loss is developing. Although a hearing loss already present cannot be repaired, the information can be used to Choose individuals for follow-up and counseling Identify trends Make choices regarding the controls. Encourage personnel to use safety gear Create possibilities for education trigger program modifications Ten jurisdictions require audiometric tests when a worker's noise exposure is greater than: the jurisdictional occupational exposure limit (five jurisdictions: Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec) 85 dBA (four jurisdictions: Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Saskatchewan) 80 dBA (one jurisdiction: Yukon) One jurisdiction requires annual audiometric testing for those working in an underground mine or when Commission has reason to believe that a worker is or may be affected with an occupational disease (New Brunswick). In three jurisdictions, no particular requirement for audiometric testing exists (Federal, Nova Scotia, and Ontario). Generally speaking, audiometric testing is recommended when a worker is exposed to noise levels greater than 85 dBA. Audiometric testing should be conducted according to CSA Standard Z107.6 Audiometric Testing for Use in Hearing Loss Prevention Programs, which outlines specifications for the testing facility, the equipment used, and those in charge of conducting audiometric tests. The CSA Standard Z1007 Hearing Loss Prevention Program Management recommends that audiometric testing involves: an initial hearing test, and a hearing test at least once every 12 months after the initial test, or a hearing test more frequently should the noise level exceed 105 dBA. Please see the OHS Answers document Noise – Audiometric tests for more information.
What is recommended for hazard communication?
If it is not practicable to reduce noise levels to or below the noise exposure limits, the employer should post clearly visible warning signs at every approach to an area in the workplace in which the sound level: Exceeds 80 dBA – clearly marked with a sign that states “Warning” and identifies the range of noise levels Exceeds 85 dBA – clearly marked with a sign that states “Warning” and specifies that workers are required to wear single hearing protection device Exceeds 105 dBA – clearly marked with a sign that states “Warning” and specifies that workers are required to wear double hearing protection devices
What should be included in worker education and training?
Education and training should be provided to workers who are required to wear hearing protection devices. The education and training should cover all elements listed in CSA Z94.2 (i.e., selection, fit, use, care, maintenance, and inspection). The education and training should be repeated, as recommended in the Standards, at regular intervals and at least once every two years. Education and training may include information about: Why use hearing protection When should protective equipment be worn, in what work areas, during what work activities How should hearing protectors be selected and worn Who is responsible for taking care of the protective equipment How to take care of the protective equipment (storage, cleaning, etc) Company policy requirements for noise control and hearing conservation Legislative requirements
What type of records and documents should be kept?
Keeping records of your assessment and any control measures implemented is very important. You may be required to store the records and documents for a specific number of years. Check for local requirements in your jurisdiction. The level of documentation or record keeping will depend on: Level of risk involved. Legislated requirements. Requirements of any management systems that may be in place. Your records should show that you: Conducted a good hazard review. Determined the risks of those hazards. Implemented control measures suitable for the risk. Reviewed and monitored all hazards in the workplace. The results of the audiometric test itself may be considered a medical record, and as such, can only be released with the worker's written consent. The audiometric technician or organization may need to keep the results of the hearing test for a period of time as specified in by the jurisdiction.
What should be included in a program review or evaluation?
A program review or evaluation is done by auditing each of the program's steps and seeing how well they are being executed. For example, ask the following questions: Are all elements or steps in place? Is it necessary to re-test or monitor the noise exposures? Are there periodic education and training sessions? What are the results from the audiometric tests? Have changes in processes or equipment resulted in reduced hearing losses? Do existing noise controls appear to be in good working condition and being used? Have any modifications been made to controls, possibly reducing their effectiveness? Is hearing protection available? Is it stored and maintained properly? Are workers wearing their protection? Have they noted any issues? Are warning signs posted where they are necessary? When new machinery or equipment is being purchased, is “buying quiet” considered in the decision process? Are further changes necessary to protect workers? The program should be reviewed periodically to see if there is a need for changes."""