Hearing Conservation

Program Purpose

Exposure to excessive noise in the workplace can cause permanent hearing loss. Although UC Merced attempts to control noise exposures on campus, certain operations and workstations could expose faculty and staff members and students to hazardous noise levels. The Hearing Conservation Program is designed to minimize risk of exposure to hazardous levels of occupational noise by implementing engineering and administrative controls where feasible and ensure that members of the campus community properly use and maintain assigned hearing protection when engineering or administrative control of noise is not feasible.

Program Procedures

Individual and area-based noise monitoring is conducted by EH&S personnel to facilitate enrollment in the campus's Hearing Conservation Program. Enrollment involves annual audiometric testing and advising as to the selection, use and care of appropriate hearing protection (earplugs or earmuffs). Employees enrolled in the Hearing Conservation Program are to receive annual training that covers the effects of noise on hearing, as well as the purpose of hearing protectors and audiometric testing. For additional information about the Hearing Conservation Program, please see the program manual.

Noise Exposure Guidelines

Allowable exposure to noise, measured in units of decibels (dBA), is limited based on the worker's time weighted average over an eight-hour day. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that noise exposure not exceed 85 dBA for eight hours to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. Furthermore, an exchange rate of 3 dBA doubles the amount of noise, consequently halving the recommended exposure time. For example, at 100 dBA, NIOSH recommends less than 15 minutes of exposure per day.