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New NIOSH homepage on hearing loss

February 28, 2003
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Check out the Hearing Loss Prevention Topic page at to learn about:

  • Common hearing loss prevention terms
  • How do I choose a hearing protector?
  • Student presentations on noise solutions
  • Best practices workshop on noise and chemicals
  • Hearing conservation checklist
  • Safeworker: Sound Advice

Here's the checklist for using hearing protection devices when appropriate:

1. Have hearing protectors been made available to all employees whose daily average noise exposures are 85 dBA or above? (NIOSH recommends requiring hearing protection device (HPD) use if noises equal or exceed 85 dBA regardless of exposure time.)

2. Are employees given the opportunity to select from a variety of appropriate protectors?

3. Are employees fitted carefully with special attention to comfort?

4. Are employees thoroughly trained, not only initially but at least once a year?

5. Are the protectors checked regularly for wear or defects, and replaced immediately if necessary?

6. If employees use disposable hearing protectors, are replacements readily available?

7. Do employees understand the appropriate hygiene requirements?

8. Have any employees developed ear infections or irritations associated with the use of hearing protectors? Are there any employees who are unable to wear these devices because of medical conditions? Have these conditions been treated promptly and successfully?

9. Have alternative types of hearing protectors been considered when problems with current devices are experienced?

10. Do employees who incur noise-induced hearing loss receive intensive counseling?

11. Are those who fit and supervise the wearing of hearing protectors competent to deal with the many problems that can occur?

12. Do workers complain that protectors interfere with their ability to do their jobs? Do they interfere with spoken instructions or warning signals? Are these complaints followed promptly with counseling, noise control or other measures?

13. Are employees encouraged to take their hearing protectors home if they engage in noisy non-occupational activities?

14. Are new types of or potentially more effective protectors considered as they become available?

15. Is the effectiveness of the hearing protector program evaluated regularly?

16. Have at-the-ear protection levels been evaluated to ensure that either over- or under-protection has been adequately balanced according to the anticipated ambient noise levels?

17. Is each hearing protector user required to demonstrate that he or she understands how to use and care for the protector? Are the results documented?

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