11.14 – Hearing Conservation

POLICY: It is the policy of Spoon River College to help protect employees from hearing loss due to occupational noise exposure.


This policy applies to all Spoon River College employees that have exposure to elevated noise levels per the requirements of their job (located on the job description).


Affected Employee:  All Spoon River College employees who are regularly exposed to elevated noise levels at or exceeding an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 dBA.

dBA: Units of noise measurement as indicated below:

Elevated noise levels:  Noise levels at or above an 8-hour TWA of 90 dBA.

Hearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Personal protective equipment that is designed to be worn in the ear canal or over the ear to reduce the sound level reaching the ear drum. Examples include ear muffs or plugs.

Noise: Unwanted sound.

Sound: A vibration or pressure oscillation that is detectable by the ear drum.

Standard Threshold Shift: An average shift from the baseline measurement in either ear of 10 dB or more at 2000, 3000 and 4000 Hz. These frequencies are the most important frequencies in communication and the most sensitive to damage by industrial noise exposure.


  1. Responsibilities:
    1. Supervisors are responsible for:
      1. evaluating jobs to determine if a job is exposed to elevated noise levels.
      2. notifying the Human Resources Office of noise complaints or potential noise hazards.
      3. ensuring that employees wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when required.
      4. ensuring that employees properly use and care for PPE.
      5. ensuring that potentially overexposed employees are provided with a baseline audiometric hearing test prior to the initial work assignment and regularly thereafter.
      6. identifying areas or processes that require noise abatement and/or posting.
    2. Human Resources Office is responsible for:
      1. assisting in determining if administrative and engineering controls are needed, and how they will be implemented.
      2. providing audiometric exams, when necessary.
      3. communicating any identified standard threshold shifts to the employee and his or her supervisor.
      4. establishing any work restrictions necessary to prevent additional hearing loss.
    3. Affected employees are responsible for:
      1. wearing the appropriate PPE as required by the job.
      2. attending required training.
      3. reporting noise hazards and PPE problems to the appropriate supervisor.
  2. Noise Exposure Assessments:
    1. When necessary, noise monitoring will be performed. All continuous, intermittent and impulsive sound levels from 80 to 130 dBA will be considered elevated noise levels and the appropriate PPE will be required. Monitoring will be repeated when necessary.
    2. Employees exposed at or above the elevated noise level will be notified of the results of the monitoring.
    3. Employees’ noise exposure will be reassessed periodically as needed.
    4. Workplaces in which the noise level exceeds 85 dBA will have signs posted. Signs shall read “Hearing Protection Required.”
  3. Audiometric Testing: When necessary, audiometric testing will be managed by the Human Resources Office and will follow current regulatory standards.  Records of audiometric test results will be retained for the duration of the affected employee’s employment.
  4. Hearing Protection: Employees exposed to elevated noise levels will be required to wear the appropriate PPE.
  5. Training: Training is required for all affected employees.