Noise and Hearing Conservation

Review the Hearing Conservation Program and complete the request for a sound level survey if you believe there are high noise level operations or machines in your work area (e.g., hold your arm straight out and snap your finger, if you cannot hear the snap high noise levels may exist).

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (University), through the Division of Safety and Compliance, Occupational Safety and Health Department (OSH), has established this Hearing Conservation Program to protect the health of university students, faculty and staff and to assure compliance with State and Federal occupational safety and health standards.

This Program provides the minimum requirements for campus units to develop and implement unit-specific written standard operating procedures (SOPs) to complement and meet the requirements detailed in this program, including completion and submission of Appendix A to OSH.

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH)
OSH is responsible for the administration of this program, which includes determining the need for hearing protection based on the hazard assessment and hearing protector selection. An OSH program coordinator is designated to provide guidance, regulatory interpretation, and oversight for this program and to review this Program annually.

Deans, Department Heads and Directors (Campus Units)
Campus Units shall designate a Responsible Person that will be charged with implementing this Program and Unit-Specific SOPs.

Campus Unit Responsible Person
The Responsible Person shall work with Campus Unit Supervisors to identify personnel that may be required to wear hearing protection and shall keep OSH apprised of new potential hazards entering the work area for both new-hire personnel and for those having a change in their job duties. In addition, personal protective equipment (PPE) assessments of work processes and tasks, described in the University’s Personal Protective Equipment Program; must be completed to ensure that all personnel within their unit affected by this Program receive proper training. The Responsible Person shall ensure that Unit-Specific SOPs are reviewed annually.

Supervisors of Affected Employees (Supervisors)
Supervisors and Principle Investigators (PIs) are responsible for enforcing proper use, care, maintenance and storage of hearing protectors for the wearers under their responsible charge in accordance with this Program and Unit-Specific SOPs. They shall assist in the development and annual review of Unit-Specific SOPs. They shall ensure that all their personnel who must undergo audiometric testing do so on an annual basis. The testing is at no cost to the individual.

Affected Employees
Affected faculty, staff, and students, herein called users, are responsible for using hearing protection when required by the specified work activity and ensure that the protectors are worn, cleaned, stored, and maintained according to the provisions of this Program, Unit-Specific SOPs, and manufacturer instructions. Those required to undergo annual audiometric testing shall do so in accordance with this Program.

Hazard Evaluation and Identification
The selection of appropriate hearing protection shall be made only after determining the potential exposure of University personnel to high levels of noise. A noise assessment of the workplace shall be conducted; including area surveys and/or noise dosimetry (see Appendices C, D, and E). OSH can conduct the noise assessment or assist the unit in identifying other providers.

Campus personnel that suspect occupational noise exposure can report it by submitting a Noise Assessment Request here

Noise exposure monitoring shall include an area survey and personal monitoring.

Program Evaluation
This Program will be reviewed annually by OSH. The written Unit-Specific SOPs shall be reviewed and updated by the respective Campus Unit at least annually and more frequently as hazards, tasks, procedures and/or equipment change.

Appendix A - Unit-Specific Standard Operating Procedures 
Appendix B - Definitions
Appendix C - Noise Dosimetry Form
Appendix D - Noise Dosimetry Results Form
Appendix E - Sound Level Survey Form
Appendix F - Noise Hazard Signage
Appendix G - Hearing Protector Information
Appendix H - Program Audit Checklist

Useful Resources:
OSHA 1910.95 Occupational Noise Exposure
OSHA 1926.52 Occupational Noise Exposure
NIOSH Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention
Speech & Hearing Clinic, College of Applied Health Sciences