Vanderbilt faculty/staff who are exposed to high levels of noise at work will have a hearing test when they start working. The hearing test is repeated every year as long as the person is exposed to high levels of noise. By testing hearing every year and comparing the results to the first test, we can identify small changes in hearing and add additional safeguards to the work place.
How much noise is too much?
The following departments are included in the Hearing Conservation Program and receive free hearing tests through the Occupational Health Clinic (OHC).
- LifeFlight regular medical crew who transport patients by helicopter
- Groundskeeping crew members who use loud machinery
- Animal Care staff who work around loud machinery
- Plant Operations staff who work around loud machinery
Do I need training if my job and department is in the OHC Hearing Conservation Program?
Training is very important for all employees in the Hearing Conservation Program.
Faculty and staff who have potential exposure to occupational noise undergo initial and annual training under the direction of Vanderbilt Environmental Health and Safety. Employees who understand the reasons for the Hearing Conservation Program and the need to protect their hearing will be more likely to wear hearing protection and be in compliance with their baseline and annual hearing tests. Training includes the effects of noise; the purpose, advantages, and disadvantages of various types of hearing protection; the selection, fit, and care of their hearing protection; and the purpose and procedures of a hearing test.
What should I expect when I have a hearing test at the Occupational Health Clinic?
- You will be asked questions about any past ear or hearing problems and all sources of high noise at home and at work
- We will examine your ears to look for any health condition that might cause a change in your hearing
- Most hearing tests are done in our sound proof booth at the Occupational Health Clinic. Occasionally testing is done at the Vanderbilt Speech and Hearing Center
- If your annual test shows a change in hearing levels, we will repeat it within 30 days to determine if the change is permanent
- All of the nurses who perform OHC hearing tests are trained and certified through a national organization called the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC)
What happens if your annual hearing test shows a confirmed change in your hearing?
Once an employee has a confirmed Standard Threshold Shift (STS) in their hearing, OHC will:
- Notify Vanderbilt Environmental Health and Safety to refit that employee with a hearing protection device that gives added protection and show them how to use it
- Work with the department supervisor to assure that the employee wears hearing protection
- Report the Standard Threshold Shift to the Medical Center Safety Committee, Risk Management, Vanderbilt Environmental Health and Safety and to the department head so that further safety measures may be implemented in the department if needed.
If you are in the Hearing Conservation Program you can call the Occupational Health Clinic at 615-936-0955 to schedule an appointment for a hearing test.
The Hearing Conservation Program
Hearing loss a preventable problem (ABC News)
Noise and Hearing Conservation
Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation
Keywords: hearing, hearing loss, hearing test, hearing conservation, audiometry, audiogram, STS, Standard Threshold Shift, OSHA