Noise and Hearing Conservation

It is the policy of Tulane University in conjunction with the Office of the Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS) to provide employees with a safe and healthful work environment.  The OSHA standard for Occupational Noise Exposure (29 CFR 1910.95) requires employers to provide employees with protection against the effects of noise exposure when sound levels exceed the Permissible Exposure Limit of 90 dBA as an 8-hour Time Weighted Average (TWA).  Protective measures may be provided either through engineering or administrative controls.  If these control measures fail to reduce the noise to within acceptable limits, personal protective equipment shall be provided and used.  Participation in a Hearing Conservation Program is required when employee noise exposures equal or exceed the “action level” of 85 dBA as an 8-hour Time Weighted Average (TWA).

The goal of the Hearing Conservation Program is to protect employees from noise-induced hearing loss due to excessive and/or prolonged workplace exposure to hazardous noise (i.e., noise levels equal to or greater than 85 dBA).  The program includes the following elements:

  • Supervisors and/or departmental personnel are responsible for notifying the OEHS of noise complaints or potential noise hazards.*   Upon request or as deemed appropriate, work environments will be surveyed by the OEHS to identify potentially hazardous noise levels and personnel at risk.  Equipment, processes or locations where noise levels equal or exceed 85 dBA should be posted with appropriate high noise warning signage.
  • Employees with workplace noise exposure levels greater than or equal to an 8-hour Time Weighted Average (TWA) of 85 dBA must participate in the Hearing Conservation Program.
  • Personnel who participate in the Hearing Conservation Program will receive initial and annual audiometric testing to monitor the effectiveness of the program.  These personnel will be provided with hearing protective devices (earplugs or ear muffs) and annual training.  Departmental supervisors are responsible for providing training to all affected personnel however the OEHS can provide training materials and other assistance.
  • Whenever feasible, noise levels will be taken into consideration when purchasing and selecting equipment as well as design or remodeling of workplaces which may contain high noise sources.