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Appendix IV:B. Hearing Conservation Program Requirements for Agricultural, Maritime, and Construction Worksites
When employees are exposed to sound levels that exceed the limits shown in Table D-2 of 1926.52 or Table G-16a of 29 CFR 1910.95, as appropriate, a continuing effective hearing conservation program is required. The program must include all employees whose work brings them, either routinely or intermittently, into areas in which the sound levels exceed those permitted by the appropriate table. Industries or worksites that do not reference the general industry noise standard (29 CFR 1910.95) include:
  • AGRICULTURAL WORKSITES. Since 29 CFR 1928.21(a) does not reference the general industry noise standard (29 CFR 1910.95), hearing conservation programs are not mandatory in agricultural operations. However, if the CSHO inspects such operations and determines that they are likely to cause employees to be exposed to noise in excess of an eight hour, time-weighted average of 85 dBA, the employer should be advised that it is good practice to reduce the noise level or provide ear protection and to train employees in the proper use and fit of ear protection and in the hazards of noise exposure. Wherever it is practical, periodic audiometric testing should be encouraged to ensure the effectiveness of hearing protection.
  • MARITIME WORKSITES. Shipyard and longshoring operations come under the requirements of the general industry noise standard; therefore, employers in such operations must meet the elements of the general industry Hearing Conservation Amendment (HCA) (29 CFR 1910.95(c) - (p)).
  • CONSTRUCTION WORKSITES. Construction employees are not covered by the Hearing Conservation Amendment. However, certain aspects of hearing conservation are covered by the construction noise standards (29 CFR 1926.52 and 29 CFR 1926.101). In evaluating hearing conservation programs in construction workplaces, CSHO's should consider the information in the following paragraphs.
    • Monitoring. In order for the employer to know who must wear hearing protection and to be able to evaluate the adequacy of the hearing protection used, the noise created by different machines and operations should be known. This information can be obtained by a variety of means, such as sound surveys, full-shift dosimetry, utilization of the OSHA-funded consultation program, use of insurance carriers, or reliance on information from equipment manufacturers and the technical literature. The sophistication of the monitoring performed will be limited by the size of the employer's business and the practicalities of the job site. The lack of monitoring may be indicative of a less than fully effective hearing conservation program.
    • Training. Training and motivation are crucial to the effectiveness of hearing protection and the hearing conservation program in general. Due to the transient work force in construction employment, training may be more difficult to provide than is the case in general industry or maritime operations.
    • Hearing Protection. 29 CFR 1926.52(b) requires hearing protection to be provided and used to reduce the sound levels reaching the cochlea to within the limits specified in Table D-2. In addition, paragraph 29 CFR 1926.101(b) requires all insert hearing protectors to be fitted individually to each overexposed employee by a competent person. A competent person is defined as a person trained in ear protection fitting and one who is able to recognize the difference between a good fit and a poor fit.
    • Audiometric Testing. When employees are overexposed to noise, periodic audiometric testing can be used in evaluating the adequacy of the hearing conservation program.

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