The following is a question posed by a Workplace Integra client to our Director of Audiology, Dr. George Cook, Au.D., CCC-A. Below is the question and Dr. Cook’s reply.
Dear Dr. Cook:
We understand the following OSHA program/monitoring guideline under 1910.95 (6): Annual audiogram – At least annually after obtaining the baseline audiogram, the employer shall obtain a new audiogram for each employee exposed at or above an 8 hour twa of 85 db.
We have approximately 30 employees in the administrative building office who do not go out into the plant intermittently as part of their job duties. They may have taken a plant tour when initially interviewed or hired and possibly may take one or two tours during their tenure here for various reasons, but other than that, they are not and will not be in noise exposure areas intermittently of 80 – 130 db on an 8 hr. twa; therefore, how often should we perform audiograms on them?
We do perform audiogram baseline on these employees too within six months of their hire date in case they do go on another plant tour with their dept. for whatever reason or in case they put in and take a job transfer with our company that might expose them to noise areas in our plant.
Hoping your professional knowledge and/or experience can help us conclude this matter.
These employees would not have to be tested for OSHA compliance. Wellness testing is always a good idea. However, when wellness testing and changes occur, the recording standard requires a case-by-case be done to determine if the change is occupational, regardless of exposure level. Knowing an employee does not have noise exposure is a certain indication that the change is not work related.
I like wellness testing because on the outside chance the company has or is causing hearing change, certainly they want to know about it and can stop the change process. Wellness testing is done a some interval. 36 months, 60 months. Etc. Scheduling wellness testing can be done on Workplace Applications by going to the ‘Add, Edit Hearing Test’ screen and changing the retest months to, say 60 months, and saving the screen. I think 3, 4, or 5 years is a good idea, depending on the test load and staffing. The important thing to me is the employee be retested at some interval so we can pick up any changes regardless of the cause, thus a hearing conservation program for all employees.