Noise Control

Engineering, Administrative, and Personal Protective Equipment controls have been and will continue to be explored for those employees whose exposures equal or exceed an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 dBA.

Hearing Protectors

The University will supply and replace hearing protectors for all workers exposed to a time-weighted average of 85 dBA or greater.

Supervisors will ensure that hearing protectors are worn:

  • By any worker who is exposed to an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 dBA or greater.
  • By any worker who is exposed to noise above 115 dBA.
  • By any worker who is exposed to any impulsive or impact noise measured at or above 140 dB peak using an impulse sound level meter set to either the linear or C-scale.

Workers may select their hearing protectors from at least two different types (i.e. molded, self-molded, custom molded, or ear muffs) of suitable hearing protectors provided by the University. The supervisor must provide training in the use and care of all hearing protectors provided to employees. The supervisor must also ensure proper initial fitting and supervise the correct use of all hearing protectors. Contact the Environmental Health & Safety Manager for assistance.

Hearing protection is required in the following locations, job duties or when the following equipment is used:

  • PLU Dishwashing room, Anderson University Center for workers exceeding 5 hours per shift
  • Other PLU Dining services workers may also require hearing protection, based on role and individual exposure determination
  • Facilities workers working in other high noise environments (carpentry shop, mechanic shop, etc.), based on exposure evaluation
  • Running landscape power equipment (saws, mowers, blowers, etc.) as part of regular job duties

The following hearing protection is currently provided to workers at PLU:

  • Howard Leight™ 1010924 L3 Leightning® Headband Earmuff, NRR 30
  • Howard Leight™ Quiet® earplugs, NRR 26
  • 3M EAR™ earplugs, NRR 28

Other styles may also be available, depending on the type of work performed and the supervisor‘s selections.  Workers will be allowed to select their choice of hearing protection in the size that fits them correctly.

Hearing protection is available from the supervisor, and also available at work locations where noise exceeds 85 dBA.

Hearing Protection Evaluation (using the NRR)

The supervisor must evaluate hearing protector effectiveness for the specific noise environments in which the protector will be used. The most convenient method to use is the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that is listed on the hearing protector package. One common method of using the NRR to determine whether a particular hearing protector provides adequate protection within a given exposure environment, is the following:

  • Obtain the employee’s A-weighted time weighted average (TWA) or noise level exposure.
  • Subtract 7 dB from the NRR of the hearing protection device.
  • Subtract the remainder from the A-weighted TWA (above) to obtain the estimated A-weighted TWA under the ear protector.

Hearing protectors must lower employee exposure to less than 85 dBA. The adequacy of hearing protector attenuation must be re-evaluated whenever employee noise exposures increase to the extent that the hearing protectors provided may no longer provide adequate attenuation. The supervisor will provide more effective hearing protectors where necessary.

Training Program

All employees who are exposed to noise at or above an 8-hour TWA of 85 dBA will receive training at the time of the annual hearing test. In most cases, the person who performs audiometric tests will also provide the required training. The Environmental Health & Safety Manager may assist with arranging training.  Currently, the audiologist performing the annual hearing tests also provides this training at that time.

Each employee is informed of the following:

  • The effects of noise on hearing
  • The purpose of hearing protectors, the advantages, disadvantages, and attenuation of various types, and instructions on selection, fitting, use, and care
  • The purpose of audiometric testing, and an explanation of the test procedures
  • The right to access their records 

Access to Information

A copy of the Hearing Protection Standard and this University program is available and can be obtained from the Environmental Health & Safety Manager or PLU Environmental Health & Safety website.

Warning Signs

Signs must be posted at entrances to or on the periphery of all well-defined work areas in which workers may be exposed at or above 115 dBA. Warning signs must clearly indicate that the area is a high noise area and that hearing protectors are required.