Hearing Conservation

The Offices of Environmental Health and Safety, and Prospective Health administer the University’s Hearing Conservation Program. This program is intended to protect employees from hearing loss arising from exposure to high sound intensity – described as occupational noise. Occupational noise is any form of exposure to sound level that is at or above 85 decibels as measured in an eight (8) hour Time-Weighted-Average.


OSHA sets legal limits on noise exposure in the workplace. These limits are based on a worker’s time weighted average over an 8 hour workday. With noise, OSHA’s permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 90dBA for all workers for an 8 hour workday. The standard uses a 5 dBA exchange rate. This means that when the noise increases by 5dBA, the duration of time such employee is allowed to be exposed to that certain noise level to receive the same dose is cut in half.

Employees exposed to noise above the OSHA action level of 85dBA for an 8 hour time weighted average may be enrolled in the University’s Hearing Conservation Program. Employees and students are encouraged to contact EH&S whenever equipment, environment or a process produces unhealthy sound levels. This is to initiate immediate noise assessment and/or monitoring. For more information on this program, please see the EH&S Hearing Conservation Program. If you have questions regarding this program, contact EH&S at 328-6166.