Work-related hearing loss is a critical workplace safety and health issue. Noise-induced hearing loss is 100 percent preventable, but once acquired it is permanent and irreversible. Therefore, preventative measures have been taken by RIT to ensure the protection of employee hearing. RIT has developed a Noise Exposure and Hearing Conservation Program in order to ensure that faculty, staff, and students are protected from noise overexposure. Hearing protection will be required in noise zones and will be optional for areas that are noisy, but do not meet the noise zone criteria.
Removing hazardous noise from the workplace through engineering controls (e.g. installing a muffler or building an acoustic barrier) is the most effective way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. Hearing protectors such as ear plugs and ear muffs should be used when it is not feasible to otherwise reduce noise to a safe level. Hearing protection will also be required for employees working in established noise zones across the campus. Noise zones will be identified with signs when applicable.
Rule of Thumb if you are in a noisy area/operation:
- First, if you have to raise your voice to talk to someone who is an arm's length away.
- If your ears are ringing or sounds seem dull or flat after leaving a noisy place.
Contact Environmental Health and Safety to conduct a noise assessment of your area if you are concerned.
The RIT Noise Exposure and Hearing Conservation Program includes: noise assessments of noisy areas; engineering controls; audiometric monitoring of workers' hearing when equal to or greater than 85 decibels (dBA) as an 8-hour average; appropriate use of hearing protectors; worker education; recordkeeping, and program evaluation. These elements also apply for areas have impact noise at or greater than 140 dBA.
Because noise zones are present on campus, there are certain requirements that RIT must follow in order to ensure the safety of workers while working in these areas. Before any RIT worker or contract employee works in a designated noise zone, they must:
- Baseline audiograms for new employees that will be working in established noise zones.
- Annual audiograms for employees working in established noise zones. Audiograms are also required for RIT temporary summer employees.
- Ensure hearing protection is available and used.
- Undergo training when employee is part of a noise zone, which is specified in the training requirements section below.
Click on the “annual audiogram process” link for details on the process.
All RIT employees who are required to wear hearing protection will be provided training in order to acquire the understanding, knowledge, and skills necessary for the safe performance of their duties.
Training shall be provided to each affected RIT employee before they first wear hearing protectors/work in an established noise zone. Annual refresher training is required for each employee who continues to use hearing protection while in a noise zone.
The training content includes but is not limited to:
- The effects of noise on hearing.
- Why hearing protection is necessary and how improper fit, usage, storage, or maintenance can compromise the protective effect of the equipment.
- What the limitations and capabilities of hearing protectors are including attenuation of various types of protectors.
- The purpose of audiometric testing and explanation of the test procedures.
- The RIT Noise Exposure & Hearing Conservation Program.
The Noise Exposure & Hearing Conservation Protection training presentation are provided periodically by the RIT EH&S Department. If you can not make one of these training sessions, the training is also available on-line through this website. In order for your on-line training session to be accepted by the RIT EH&S Department you must take a brief assessment at the end of the presentation. Please go through every slide of the presentation before taking the assessment. You can access the on-line course through E-Learning Zone: Noise and Hearing Conservation 2011.