OSHA, MSHA, & FRA Regulation Highlights
Who Must Be Tested
- Those exposed to 85 dBA or more on 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA).
- You must notify those exposed to 85 dBA or more of noise monitoring results.
- Must provide protectors to those exposed to 90 dBA on 8-hour TWA.
Employers must annually train those exposed to 85 dBA on 8-hour TWA or more in following:
- Effects of noise on hearing
- Purpose of hearing protectors
- Advantages and disadvantages of types of protectors
- Instructions on selecting and fitting hearing protectors
- Use and care of hearing protectors
- Purpose of hearing testing and explanation of testing procedures
Requires testing at 500, 1K, 2K, 3K, 4K, and 6K frequencies. 8K optional.
- Conduct baseline hearing test for exposed employees within 6 months of employment or 1 year if using mobile testing.
- Baseline test must be preceded by 14 hours of non-noise exposure or wearing of hearing protectors.
- Annually conduct hearing tests for those exposed to 85 dBA TWA.
Standard Threshold Shifts (STSs)
Definition: change in average of 2000, 3000, and 4000 frequencies of 10 dBA or more in either ear with optional allowance for aging.
You have 30 days to retest an STS, and may substitute the retest for the original.
Must perform these tasks when STS occurs:
- Notify employee in writing of STS within 21 days of test
- If employee not wearing hearing protectors, fit with hearing protectors and train in their use and care
- If employee wearing hearing protectors, refit protectors and retrain in their use and care
- If additional testing necessary or wearing of protectors causes medical pathology, refer for clinical evaluation
- If medical pathology suspected that's unrelated to wearing of protectors, notify of need for otological examination
- Provide hearing protectors that attenuate exposure to 8-hour TWA of 85 dBA or less
Annual audiogram may be substituted for baseline when audiologist judges STS to be persistent or if significant improvement over baseline.
Definition: Standard Threshold Shift (STS) plus non-age-corrected average of 25 dB or more in 2000, 3000, and 4000 Hz frequencies.
- Log Recordable unless planning retest within 30 days
- If retest confirms Recordable, log within 7 days
- If subsequent tests show Recordable not persistent, may line off Recordable in log
- If professional determines loss to be non-work-related, may line off Recordable in log
- Noise exposure measurements must be kept for two years
- Audiometric tests must be kept for duration of the employee's employment
- All records must be provided to employees or former employees upon request
MSHA rules are largely the same as the OSHA rules with the following notable exceptions.
Mine operator must offer audiometric testing. Miner participation is voluntary.
Must receive results of testing within 30 days from date audiogram conducted.
Testing technician must be certified.
Dual Hearing Protection
Miner exposed to 8-hour TWA of 105 dBA or more must wear both plugs and muffs.
Must provide hearing conservation training to worker within 30 days of employment.
Must notify worker of STS or Reportable within 10 working days of receiving test results.
May conduct one retest within 30 days of receiving test results.
Employee considered reportable when there is an average change of 25 dB or more in 2000, 3000, and 4000 Hz frequencies of either ear from baseline. Thresholds may be age adjusted.
Keep audiometric test records for duration of miner's employment plus six months.
FRA rules are largely the same as OSHA rules with the following notable exceptions.
Frequency of Testing and Training
Must offer testing and training annually; must complete testing and training every 3 years.
Requires testing at 8 KHz frequency (optional in OSHA).
Retests allowed within 90 days (OSHA retest window is 30 days).
STS Notification Period
Notify employee of STS within 30 days (OSHA limit is 21 days).
Exposures up to 120 dBA allowed for up to 5 seconds (OSHA maximum is 115 dBA).
Physician or audiologist must be in charge of hearing conservation program. If Physician, physician must have experience and expertise in hearing and hearing loss.