Audiometric Testing

A baseline audiogram needs to be obtained on every worker exposed to an 85-dB time-weighted average or greater. Employees must be tested within 6 months of hire and then at least annually thereafter. Testing procedures must meet OSHA standards, and the test must include frequencies in the 500-, 1000-, 2000-, 3000-, 4000-, and 6000-Hz range. (The 8000-Hz range must be added in Kentucky and certain countries in Europe.) The standard requires audiometry analysis and follow up with the program manager (an audiologist or nurse), who must review the audiograms and determine if there is a need for further evaluation (5).

If there is an average change of 10 dB or more from baseline audiogram test at 2000, 3000, or 4000 Hz, it is considered a standard threshold shift. The law requires that the employee be counseled within 21 days of this determination. If the employee is currently wearing a hearing protector that does not offer adequate protection, then a different device should be used. The hearing protection device fit should be checked. Appropriate records of follow-up and testing should be retained, and it is the employer's responsibility to pay for the testing and equipment.

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