Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.95

May 9,1994

J. Christopher Nutter, President
Safety and Industrial Hygiene Division
IMS Inc.
2911 Peach Street
Erie, Pennsylvania 16508

Dear Mr. Nutter:

This is in response to your letter of February 16, concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hearing Conservation Standard. We will repeat each of your questions and follow with an answer.

1. Has there been any changes to the standard (1910.95) since the Federal Register, Volume 48, Number 46, Tuesday, March 8, 1983?

The standard has not changed since the date you referenced.

2. Have there been any CPL Directives issued with regards to the standard?

OSHA Instruction CPL 2-2.35 was issued November 9, 1983. It was superseded by OSHA Instruction CPL 2-2.35A on December 19, 1983. With the exception of Appendix A (copy enclosed), the CPL 2-2.35A has been canceled and merged into the Field Operations Manual.

3. Should all audiometric tests administered during employment be included in the employer's Hearing Conservation Program and should they all be reviewed for compliance with the standard?

All audiometric tests administered pursuant to standard 29 CFR 1910.95 must be reviewed, evaluated, and utilized in accordance with the standard. Any audiometric tests that are not administered pursuant to 29 CFR 1910.95 must be preserved, retained, and provided access in accordance with standard 29 CFR 1910.1020, Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records.

4. Please define "responsible to" in technicians who perform audiometric tests must be responsible to an Audiologist, Otolaryngologist, or Physician. (1910.95(g)(3)).

Technicians are under the direction of a certified or licensed audiologist, otolaryngologist, or other physician. The technicians must know when to confer with the professional according to criteria established by the professional. The professional has responsibility for the overall audiometric test program and to ensure that the tests conducted by the technicians are conducted properly.

5. ...determine if the audiogram was valid... Please define "valid" in the context of the standard. 1910.95(g)(7)(i).

In general, a valid audiogram in the context of 29 CFR 1910.95(g)(7)(i) is one giving the appearance that the test was provided correctly and the subject responded appropriately to the test signals. Of course, in order for an audiogram to be valid it must be one that was conducted meeting all the standard's requirements for the various components of the audiometric testing program; such as, the test was conducted with a properly calibrated audiometer, the appropriate test frequencies were tested, the background noise levels were in conformance with the standard for audiometer test rooms, the audiometer met the required audiometric equipment specifications.

6. Please define "problem audiograms" in the context of the standard.

Examples of problems audiograms are: Audiograms that show large differences in hearing thresholds between the two ears, audiograms that show unusual hearing loss configurations that are atypical of noise induced hearing loss, and audiograms with thresholds that are not repeatable.

7. Is the Audiologist, Otolaryngologist, or Physician required by the standard to review all defined problem audiograms or can this activity be conducted by a CAOHC certified technician, who then recommends referral?

A licensed or certified audiologist, otolaryngologist, or other physician must review all problem audiograms and determine whether there is a need for further evaluation. Standard 29 CFR 1910.95 does not permit the conduction of this activity by technicians certified by CAOHC.

8. According to the standard, should all employees whose audiogram depicts a standard threshold shift (STS) be referred to an Audiologist, Otolaryngologist, or Physician for further evaluation?

All employees whose audiogram depicts an STS do not have to be referred to the licensed or certified audiologist, otolaryngologist, or other physician for evaluation. The technician decides which employees to refer to the professional based on guidelines established by the professional.

9. According to the standard, must the functional operation of the audiometer be recorded and include: time dated and signed or initialed by the person performing the functional calibration?

There is no requirement to create records relating to the checking of the functional operation of the audiometer.

10. Must all field sheets (audiograms) and audiological evaluation forms be retained or can computer runoff reports and evaluations comply with the standard as the record?

The audiometric test record must show the threshold of hearing at all the test frequencies. Any materials not necessary for showing this information do not have to be retained.

11. Must the Audiologist, Otolaryngologist, or Physician be involved with all aspects of the Hearing conservation Program (according to the standard) including noise survey, personal monitoring, etc.?

The professional need only be involved with the audiometric testing program.

12. Can a CAOHC certified technician perform evaluations such as determining problem audiograms, evaluating standard threshold shifts, and determining referrals?

The CAOHC certified technician has no more authority than a technician who is not certified but can demonstrate competence in administering the audiometric tests. Technicians may compare annual audiograms to baseline audiograms to determine if an STS has occurred. They may inspect audiograms to determine if they are "problem audiograms" that must be reviewed by the licensed or certified audiologist, otolaryngologist, or other physician to whom they are responsible. The said professional must have predefined a "problem audiogram" for the technician. The review of "problem audiograms" for determining whether to refer the employee for further evaluation must be done by a licensed or certified audiologist, otolaryngologist, or other physician.

13. Must the directives of the Professional (Audiologist, Otolaryngologist,or Physician) be in writing according to the standard?

Standard 29 CFR 1910.95 does not require that technicians receive their directions in writing from the audiologist, otolaryngologist, or physician to whom they are responsible.

14. Must the evaluation guidance be in writing according to the standard?

Standard 29 CFR 1910.95 does not require that technicians receive their guidance in evaluating audiograms in writing from the audiologist, otolaryngologist, or physician to whom they are responsible.

15. According to the standard, must there be exact calibration documentation of the noise sampling equipment?

Rule 29 CFR 1910.95(d)(2)(ii) requires that instruments used to measure employee noise exposure be kept in calibration. However, there is no requirement in the standard to document the conduction of the calibration.

16. What is meant by the Professional (i.e. Audiologist) "oversees" the Hearing conservation Program?

Professionals are responsible for ensuring that the audiometric tests conducted by the technician are performed according to the requirements of the standard, for determining the need to refer employees for further evaluation, for ensuring that employees receive the appropriate professional attention indicated by their audiograms, etc.

17. If the audiological records from a previous employer are entered into the current employer's program, what is considered the baseline test: Can the first test of the current employer be considered a revised baseline test?

If this is a case of a place of business changing ownership, the previous employer must transfer the audiometric test records to the successor employer. The previous employer's baseline audiograms must be assumed by the successor employer and these baselines may not be revised until the licensed or certified audiologist, otolaryngologist, or other physician determines the employees have experienced a persistent shift of hearing that, when compared to these baselines, is equal to a standard threshold shift (STS).

18. If a standard threshold shift is persistent (i.e. within test/retest reliability three consecutive times) [can it] be considered a revised baseline test?

An annual can be substituted for the baseline if the professional determines that the employee has experienced a persistent STS. The attainment of the same test results for three consecutive tests does not necessarily mean that an employee has experienced a persistent shift of the threshold of hearing.

19. Can the guidelines set forth by CAOHC and the current CAOHC Manual be used as testing procedures, evaluating procedures, etc., for compliance with the standard?

The guidelines set forth by CAOHC can be used as long as the requirements of the hearing conservation standard are met. CAOHC guidelines can not substitute for the requirements of the standard unless they exceed them.

20. Would a Speech and Hearing Disorders Bachelored Degree Professional be considered a "professional" according to the standard and please describe his function or responsibilities in a Hearing Conservation Program?

It is our understanding that a B.S. degree in Speech and Hearing Disorders does not include receipt of a license to practice audiology, therefore, a person with this degree is not the equivalent of one of the professionals specified by standard 29 CFR 1910.95, which are: Licensed or certified audiologist, otolaryngologist, or other physician. A person with a B.S. degree in Speech and Hearing Disorders may assume the function and responsibilities of a technician if he/she satisfactorily demonstrates competence in administering audiometric examinations, obtaining valid audiograms, and properly using, maintaining and checking calibration and proper functioning of the audiometers being used.

21. Is a written Hearing Conservation Program required, according to the standard, and if so, must a copy be given to the employee?

Standard 29 CFR 1910.95 does not require the employer to prepare a written hearing conservation program.

22. Are the OSHA Compliance Officers directed to be neutral/impartial or are the OSHA Compliance Officers employee advocates?

OSHA Compliance officers are directed to determine and enforce compliance with OSHA regulations and the General Duty Clause (Sec. 5.a.(1)) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

We appreciate the opportunity to clarify these matters for you.

Sincerely,



Ruth E. McCully, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs

Enclosure



February 16, 1994

Office of Compliance - Noise
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW.
Washington, DC 20210

Dear Gentlemen:

During the last six months, it appears that there is an increased effort in targeting the Hearing Conservation Standard 29 CFR 1910.95, in industry. In this directive, it would appear that there has been changes in the regulation which may add additional cost to compliance. Therefore, guidance and answers to the following questions would be greatly appreciated to be certain that Hearing Conservation Programs conform and comply with current rulings and interpretations of the Standard uniformly.

1. Has there been any changes to the standard (1910.95) since the Federal Register, Volume 48, Number 46, Tuesday, March 8, 1983? If so would you please provide a copy.

2. Have there been any CPL Directives issued with regards to the standard? If so would you please provide a copy.

3. Should all audiometric tests administered during employment be included in the employer's Hearing Conservation Program and should they all be reviewed for compliance with the standard? 4. Please define "responsible to" in technicians who perform audiometric tests must be responsible to an Audiologist, Otolaryngologist, or Physician. (1910.95(g)(3)).

5. ... determine if the audiogram was valid... Please define "valid" in the context of the standard. 1910.95(g)(7)(i).

6. Please define "problem audiograms"' in the context of the standard.

7. Is the Audiologist, Otolaryngologist, or Physician required by the standard to review all defined problem audiograms or can this activity be conducted by a CAOHC certified technician, who then recommends referral? 8. According to the standard, should all employees whose audiogram depicts a (STS) standard threshold shift be referred to an Audiologist Otolaryngologist, or Physician for further evaluation? 9. According to the standard, must the functional operation of the audiometer be recorded and include: time dated and signed or initialed by the person performing the functional calibration? 10. Must all field sheets (audiograms) and audiological evaluation forms be retained or can computer runoff reports and evaluations comply with the standard as the record? 11. Must the Audiologist Otolaryngologist, or Physician be involved with all aspects of the Hearing Conservation Program (according to the standard) including noise survey, personal monitoring, etc.? 12. Can a CAOHC certified technician perform evaluations such as determining problem audiograms, evaluating standard threshold shifts, and determining referrals? 13. Must the directives of the Professional (Audiologist, Otolaryngologist, or Physician) be in writting according to the standard? 14. Must the evaluation guidance be in writting according to the standard? 15. According to the standard, must there be exact calibration documentation of the noise sampling equipment? If so please give details.

16. What is meant by the Professional (ie. Audiologist) "oversees" the Hearing Conservation Program? 17. If the audiological records from a previous employer are entered into the current employer's program, what is considered the baseline test? Can the first test of the current employer be considered a revised baseline test? 18. If a standard threshold shift is persistent (ie. within test/retest reliability three consecutive times) be considered a revised baseline test.

19. Can the guide lines set fourth by CAOHC and the current CAOHC Manual be used as testing procedures, evaluating procedures, etc. for compliance with the standard? 20. Would a Speech and Hearing Disorders Bachelorhood Degree Professional be considered a "Professional" according to the standard and please describe his function or responsibilities in a Hearing Conservation Program?.

21. Is a written Hearing Conservation Program required, according to the standard, and if so, must a copy be given to the employee? 22. Are the OSHA Compliance Officers directed to be neutral/impartial or are the OSHA Compliance Officers employee advocates?

Thank you in advance for your guidance and I await with anticipation your answers.

Sincerely,



J. Christopher Nutter
President, IMS, Inc.
Safety and Industrial Hygiene Division

JCN/bd cc. to file Senator Specter



January 17, 1994

Mr. G. Brinkerhoff
Office of Compliance - Noise
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW.
Washington, DC 20210

Dear Mr. Brinkerhoff:

During the last six months, it appears that there is an increased effort in targeting the Hearing Conservation Standard 29 CFR 1910.95, in industry. In this directive, it would appear that there has been changes in the regulation which may add additional cost to compliance. Therefore, guidance and answers to the following questions would be greatly appreciated to be certain that Hearing Conservation Programs conform and comply with current rulings and interpretations of the Standard uniformly.

1. Has there been any changes to the standard (1910.95) since the Federal Register, Volume 48, Number 46, Tuesday, March 8, 1983? If so would you please provide a copy.

2. Have there been any CPL Directives issued with regards to the standard? If so would you please provide a copy.

3. Should all audiometric tests administered during employment be included in the employer's Hearing Conservation Program and should they all be reviewed for compliance with the standard? 4. Please define "responsible to" in technicians who perform audiometric tests must be responsible to an Audiologist, Otolaryngologist, or Physician. (1910.95(g)(3)).

5. ... determine if the audiogram was valid... Please define "valid" in the context of the standard. 1910.95(g)(7)(i).

6. Please define "problem audiograms"' in the context of the standard.

7. Is the Audiologist, Otolaryngologist, or Physician required by the standard to review all defined problem audiograms or can this activity be conducted by a CAOHC certified technician, who then recommends referral? 8. According to the standard, should all employees whose audiogram depicts a (STS) standard threshold shift be referred to an Audiologist Otolaryngologist, or Physician for further evaluation? 9. According to the standard, must the functional operation of the audiometer be recorded and include: time dated and signed or initialed by the person performing the functional calibration? 10. Must all field sheets (audiograms) and audiological evaluation forms be retained or can computer runoff reports and evaluations comply with the standard as the record? 11. Must the Audiologist Otolaryngologist, or Physician be involved with all aspects of the Hearing Conservation Program (according to the standard) including noise survey, personal monitoring, etc.? 12. Can a CAOHC certified technician perform evaluations such as determining problem audiograms, evaluating standard threshold shifts, and determining referrals? 13. Must the directives of the Professional (Audiologist, Otolaryngologist, or Physician) be in writting according to the standard? 14. Must the evaluation guidance be in writting according to the standard? 15. According to the standard, must there be exact calibration documentation of the noise sampling equipment? If so please give details.

16. What is meant by the Professional (ie. Audiologist) "oversees" the Hearing Conservation Program? 17. If the audiological records from a previous employer are entered into the current employer's program, what is considered the baseline test? Can the first test of the current employer be considered a revised baseline test? 18. If a standard threshold shift is persistent (ie. within test / retest reliability three consecutive times) be considered a revised baseline test.

19. Can the guide lines set fourth by CAOHC and the current CAOHC Manual be used as testing procedures, evaluating procedures, etc. for compliance with the standard? 20. Would a Speech and Hearing Disorders Bachelorhood Degree Professional be considered a "Professional" according to the standard and please describe his function or responsibilities in a Hearing Conservation Program?.

21. Is a written Hearing Conservation Program required, according to the standard, and if so, must a copy be given to the employee? 22. Are the OSHA Compliance Officers directed to be neutral/impartial or are the OSHA Compliance Officers employee advocates?

Thank you in advance for your guidance and I await with anticipation your answers.

Sincerely,



J. Christopher Nutter
President, IMS, Inc.
Safety and Industrial Hygiene Division

JCN/bd

cc. to file Congressman Ridge

Audiometric Interpretations:

1. No 2. Yes, 3. Yes, all audiograms conducted during employment needs to be compliance with the standard.

4. Technicians are under the direction of the professional. They must know when to confer with the professional according to criteria established by the professional. The professional has responsibility for the overall audiometric test program and to ensure that the tests conducted by the technicians are conducted properly.

5. A valid audiogram is one that was conducted meeting all the standard's requirements for the various components of the audiometric testing program; such as the test is conducted with a properly calibrated audiometer, the appropriate test frequencies are tested, the background noise levels are in conformance with the standard for audiometer test rooms, and the audiometer meets the required audiometric equipment specifications.

6. Examples of problems audiograms are: audiograms that show large differences in hearing thresholds between the two ears, audiograms that show unusual hearing loss configurations that are atypical of noise induced hearing loss, and thresholds not repeatable.

7. Yes, the professional must review all problem audiograms. Routine audiograms can be reviewed by technicians certified by CAOHC.

8. No. Employees need not be referred for testing if their audiogram shows an STS. Referral is necessary only for problem audiograms.

9. No. There are no record keeping requirements relating to checking the functional operation of the audiometer.

10. Policy issue. However the intent is that the information is available and all original audiograms must be retained.

11. The professional need only be involved with the audiometric testing program.

12. The CAOHC certified technician has no more responsibility than a technician who is not certified but can demonstrate competence in administering the audiometric tests. The technician reviews audiograms to determine STS. Only the audiograms that the professional has predefined as " problem" audiograms needs to be referred to the professional for further evaluation.

13. No.

14. No.

15. No. The standard does not require documentation for calibration of noise measuring equipment. The agency has adopted a performance approach to measuring instrument calibration. This approach will allow employers to follow the manufacturer's recommended procedures or follow good practice.

16. Professionals are responsible for supervising the employer's audiometric test program and ensuring that the tests conducted by the technician are performed according to the requirements of the standard. The professional determines the need for further referral and is responsible for ensuring that employees will receive professional attention if their audiograms so dictate.

17. It is the responsibility of the professional in charge of the program to determine which audiogram to choose as the baseline and whether the first audiogram on the new job is to be the revised baseline.

18. An annual can be substituted for the baseline if the professional determines that the employee has experienced a persistent threshold shift. (OSHA does not define "persistent" as "three consecutive times")

19. The guidelines set forth by CAOHC can be used as long as the requirements of the hearing conservation standard are met. CAOHC guidelines can not substitute for the requirements of the standard.

20. The standard requires that the audiologist be licensed or certified. Therefore it is my understanding that one can not receive a license to practice audiology from a B.S. degree program in Speech and Hearing Disorders.

21. The only component of the standard that is in writing is the notification of an STS.

22. Policy


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