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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

SM 445-2-H CHAPTER 19

Industrial Hygiene - Hearing Conservation Program

Instruction:  This chapter was updated to reflect U.S. Geological Survey organizational changes.

1.  Purpose.  To establish policy and procedures to protect employees from occupational noise-induced hearing loss.

2.  Scope.  This policy applies to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) employees and those who work under USGS funding or direction.

3.  References.

A.  29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.95, Occupational Noise Exposure.

B.  29 CFR 1910.95 Appendix A, Noise Exposure Computation.

C.  29 CFR 1910.95 Appendix B, Methods for Estimating the Adequacy of Hearing Protector Attenuation.

D.  Department of the Interior Occupational Medicine Program Handbook, 485 DM 18.

4.  Requirements.

A.  When information (e.g., an initial exposure assessment, sound level measurements, complaints, job hazard analysis, etc.) indicates that any employee's exposure may equal or exceed an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels, A-weighted (dBA), representative personal exposure monitoring shall be conducted.  Exposure assessment requirements are found in SM 445-2-H.51, Industrial Hygiene Program.

B.  The hearing conservation program requirements of 29 CFR 1910.95 shall be instituted when employee noise exposure is equal to or exceeds an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 dBA.  Program requirements include:

(1)  Annual audiograms.

(2)  Annual hearing conservation training.

(3)  Use of hearing protection devices that attenuate noise exposures to an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 dBA.

(4)  Notification to affected employees regarding noise monitoring and annual audiogram results. 

C.  Sound level measurements shall be collected of suspected hazardous noise areas or hazardous noise generating sources (e.g., mechanical rooms, powered tools, and other equipment).

D.  Signs or labels shall be posted at the entrance to any work area or on any piece of equipment that produces noise levels at or above 85 dBA.

E.  Employees shall wear hearing protection where noise levels equal or exceed 85 dBA.

F.  Feasible administrative or engineering controls shall be utilized where employee exposure is 90 dBA or greater, as an 8-hour time-weighted average.

5.  Responsibilities.

A.  Director.  Directs hearing conservation program activities through the Designated Agency Safety and Health Official.

B.  Associate Directors and Regional Directors.

(1)  Ensure that financial resources are provided to implement and comply with the hearing conservation program.

(2)  Ensure that managers and supervisors are accountable for ensuring compliance with hearing conservation program requirements.

(3)  Ensure that program deficiencies are abated in a timely manner.

C.  Designated Agency Safety and Health Official. 

(1)  Exercises the authority of the Director to establish, develop, direct, and manage an effective hearing conservation program.

(2)  Assigns hearing conservation authority to the Chief, Office of Management Services, for program management and administration.

(3)  Provides appropriate personnel and budgetary resources to support a hearing conservation program.

D.  Chief, Office of Management Services.  

(1)  Assigns program management, administration, and operational program support responsibilities to the Occupational Safety and Health Program Manager.

(2)  Ensures that safety staff has sufficient authority, resources, and qualifications to effectively support national capabilities and regional program needs.
E.  Occupational Safety and Health Program Manager.

(1)  Ensures the establishment, oversight, and assessment of the hearing conservation program.

(2)  Ensures the development of hearing conservation program policy and guidance.

F.  Industrial Hygienist(s).

(1)  Develop policy, guidance, protocols, program goals, and objectives.

(2)  Provide guidance and services to mission area, office, and regional programs to facilitate compliance with Federal and Department of the Interior (DOI) statutes and regulations and USGS program requirements.

(3)  Assess exposure trends and proposes initiatives for the prevention of occupational noise-induced hearing loss.

(4)  Coordinate with mission areas, offices, and regional staff to facilitate local implementation of the hearing conservation program.
(5)  Provide industrial hygiene technical assistance such as conducting noise exposure assessments, directing noise exposure monitoring, developing site-specific procedures, and implementing hearing conservation program elements.

(6)  Develop and implements monitoring strategies for representative noise monitoring.

(7)  Provide appropriate orientation and training to local employees who perform noise exposure monitoring.

(8)  Enter exposure assessments and noise monitoring data into the DOI Exposure Assessment Web site.

(9)  Enter findings from exposure assessments, monitoring, and special investigations requiring cost center action into the DOI Inspection and Abatement System (IAS).

(10)  Notify managers and employees of noise exposure monitoring and assessment results within timeframe specified by OSHA regulations.

G.  Regional Safety Managers.

(1)  Provide direction and oversight for the administration of the hearing conservation program, serving as the focal point for regional compliance and program implementation; and providing technical advice to Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators (CDSPCs).

(2)  Assist management and CDSPCs in obtaining exposure assessments and noise exposure monitoring support with consultation and participation of the Industrial Hygienist(s).

(3)  Evaluate the effectiveness of the hearing conservation program requirements during inspections, and make recommendations for improving implementation.

(4)  Track and monitor abatement of hearing conservation program findings in the IAS.

Note:  The OSH Management Branch (OSHMB) National Program Section staff shall provide services detailed in 19.5.G.(1-4) above for Associate Directors.

H.  Science Center Directors, Cost Center Managers, and Project Chiefs.

(1)  Ensure that adequate funding resources are provided for noise control measures to abate occupational exposures to noise.

(2)  Ensure that employee noise exposures are assessed and monitored through coordination with the respective Regional Safety Manager or the OSHMB National Program Section staff and Industrial Hygienist(s), as applicable.

(3)  Ensure that employees who conduct noise exposure monitoring are appropriately trained (e.g., monitoring equipment operations and calibration, monitoring protocols, etc.).

(4)  Ensure that affected employees are informed of noise exposure monitoring results.

(5)  Provide hearing protection devices that attenuate noise levels below 85 dBA.

(6)  Implement feasible engineering controls or administrative controls to reduce noise exposures below 90 dBA as an 8-hour time-weighted average and impact noise below 140 dBA impact noise.

(7)  Provide annual audiograms and hearing conservation training to employees exposed at or above 85 dBA as an 8-hour time-weighted average. 

(8)  Notify the affected employee and take appropriate measures outlined in 29 CFR 1910.95 when annual audiogram results indicate a standard threshold shift.

(9)  Report an occurrence of a standard threshold shift in Safety Management Information System (SMIS).

(10)  Investigate occurrences of standard threshold shifts and document investigation in SMIS.

(11)  Ensure that the center’s hearing conservation program findings are documented in the IAS and abated.

I.  Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators. 

(1)  Assist organizational managers and supervisors in the implementation of the hearing conservation program.  A sample hearing conservation program is found in Appendix 19-A, Sample Hearing Conservation Program.

(2)  Coordinate noise exposure assessments and monitoring with the Regional Safety Manager or the OSHMB National Program Section staff and the Industrial Hygienist(s).

(3)  Assist organizational managers and supervisors in notifying affected employees of the results of exposure monitoring and annual audiograms.

(4)  Evaluate hearing protection effectiveness in use at the site with the assistance of the Industrial Hygienist(s).

J.  Employees.

(1)  Comply with requirements to use engineering controls, administrative and work practice controls, and personal protective equipment.

(2)  Comply with the requirements of the hearing conservation program.

/s/ Jose R. Aragon                                                                              October 9, 2015
Jose R. Aragon                                                                                      Date
Associate Director for Administration 

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