The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Hearing Loss

Reference Number: MTAS-1989
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: September 14, 2017
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If a work-related injury or illness results in a hearing loss, the employee is required to record, by checking the "hearing loss" column on the OSHA 300 Log, all cases in which an employee's hearing test (audiogram) revealed that a Standard Threshold Shift (STS) in hearing acuity had occurred. 29 C.F.R. § 1904.10(a). An STS is defined in 29 C.F.R. § 1904.10(b)(1) as "a change in hearing threshold, relative to the most recent audiogram for that employee, of an average of 10 decibels or more at 2000, 3000 and 4000 Hertz (Hz) in one or both ears."

The recordkeeping rule itself does not require the employer to test employee's hearing. However, OSHA's occupational noise standard (29 C.F.R. § 1910.95) requires employers in general industry to conduct periodic audiometric testing of employees when employees' noise exposures are equal to, or exceed, an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85dBA. Under the provisions of § 1910.95, if such testing reveals that an employee has sustained a hearing loss equal to an STS, the employer must take protective measures, including requiring the use of hearing protectors, to prevent further hearing loss. Employers in the construction, agriculture, oil and gas drilling and servicing, and shipbuilding industries are not covered by § 1910.95, and therefore are not required by OSHA to provide hearing tests. If employers in these industries voluntarily conduct hearing tests they are required to record hearing loss cases meeting the recording criteria set forth in the final Section 1904.10 rule.