An image of an audiologist performing an occupational hearing testing audiological review of an employees hearing test results from the SHOEBOX Data Management portal

Establishing an OSHA-Compliant Occupational Hearing Testing Program

Hearing Conservation, Hearing Conservation eBook

We’ve helped hundreds of companies bring their occupational hearing testing programs in-house. And we’ve helped a similar number of service providers add mobile hearing testing to their toolbox. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned in that time. 

Many organizations realize significant cost savings. They regain control of their testing programs by being able to adopt flexible testing schedules. And they are achieving greater levels of compliance as more employees opt into the testing process. Equally importantly, their program members report preferring the experience over traditional testing methods.

To share what we’ve learned, we put together a comprehensive reference guide. Whether you are interested in bringing your program in-house, or are a service provider looking to expand your offerings, it will provide answers to the most common questions that we get asked. The full guide will cover:

Hearing Testing Options

There are several options for how to conduct testing including sending staff to clinics or bringing mobile clinics on site. In this guide, we’ll share the pros and cons of each and compare them to boothless, automated audiometry.

The Key Players

There are various people involved in most occupational hearing testing programs. This guide will cover the role that each plays. What’s the difference between a program manager and a professional supervisor? What are the responsibilities of the test administrator and the HSE/EHS?  When do you involve your medical director (if you have one) or audiological reviewers?  Even your union reps can play a critical part.

OSHA Requirements for Occupational Hearing Testing

Hearing testing is only one component of an occupational Hearing Conservation Program. Other OSHA-mandated components include noise assessment and monitoring, provision of hearing protection, employee training programs, and records management. This guide will cover the specific OSHA requirements for compliant audiometric testing including testing environments, test frequencies and levels, required equipment, calibration, testing processes, scheduling, audiological review, actioning hearing shifts, providing notifications to employees, and more.

Test Environments: Finding an OSHA-Compliant Location

Boothless audiometry affords the opportunity to conduct testing outside of a sound booth, however, your environment must meet the OSHA-mandated maximum permissible ambient noise levels (MPANLs). We’ll cover what MPANLs are, the steps you can take to find a suitable test location, how to mitigate room noise, and how to conduct a pretest room scan. 

How to Maintain your Audiometer

OSHA and ANSI have well-defined requirements related to the maintenance of your audiometric testing equipment. This guide covers the steps necessary to keep your audiometer compliant with the ANSI Standard described in the previous chapter. These include daily verifications, annual calibrations, test configurations, and functional checks. 

Hearing Testing Workflow: Steps to Follow

This section will serve as a step-by-step walkthrough of a typical testing day. Equipment maintenance and room preparation, identifying who is due for testing, instructing employees, test administration, communicating results, and determining next steps.

Audiological Review and Clinical Referral Paths

A key component of a program includes the verification and confirmation of hearing shifts and other medical indications by a licensed professional. This step ensures the necessary review of test results, as well as recommended next steps even if your program spans multiple states. Here we’ll discuss centrally-coordinated audiological review requirements to meet the time-bound OSHA reporting rules.

Maintaining OSHA 300 Logs

The OSHA 300 form is used to record all reportable injuries that occur in the workplace including a recordable shift in hearing from baseline. This form tracks when the injury was identified, the name and title of the employee, and the number of days they could potentially be away from work, or restricted to light duty. We’ll cover details on how to maintain an OSHA 300 form, including when recordable shifts need to be filed as well as what to do if additional information becomes available in future (e.g. retests).

Managing Occupational Hearing Testing Data

Bringing your program in-house starts with clean data which can be a challenge for some companies. We’ll cover the importance of establishing up-to-date baseline records and review the common issue of missing or incomplete records. 

Flexible Testing Schedules

A major benefit of bringing your program in-house, or offering mobile services, is the flexibility to test on a more regular basis. Choosing birth dates or work anniversaries can ease the burden of scheduling large groups of employees in a relatively short period of time. We’ll share tips on how to automate some of the scheduling processes.

Delivering an Optimal Employee Experience

Some of the most compliant programs we’ve seen are those where the employees are active participants in the testing process. Delivering an optimal experience is good for your staff and better for your overall program. 

Infection Control

Events in recent times have brought forward the added importance of infection control. Starting with exceptional hygiene, enabling hearing testing while maintaining adequate distance between the employee and administrator, to how to disinfect the testing equipment. In this chapter we’ll cover best practices to de-risk your hearing testing activities.

This guide is intended to be a useful tool on your journey to in-house mobile hearing testing or adding iPad-based testing to your services business. If you would like to download the complete guide now, complete the form below.

Feel free to share this with colleagues, peers, or others who would benefit from learning more on how to optimize your Hearing Conservation Program with innovative employee-focused testing and follow-up.

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