Tools and resources to help employers achieve their hearing conservation goals
Your hearing conservation programme starts here
Employers have an obligation to safeguard and protect the health, safety and well-being of employees in the workplace. The European Council Directive 2003/10/EC details the minimum safety and health requirements regarding worker exposure to risks arising from noise, but how do you ensure compliance with this law? By implementing an effective hearing conservation programme, employers can help to minimise and control the risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), while fulfilling their legal obligations in terms of worker safety. Whether you're looking to start afresh, or looking to improve an existing hearing protection programme, 3M is here to help.
When an employer is fully committed towards preventing hearing loss, employees are far more likely to follow this lead and be proactive in terms of protecting their own hearing. With world-class and proven detection, protection, communication and validation products, 3M Hearing Protection is the partner you’ll want with you every step of the way.
An accurate measurement of employee exposure to hazardous noise is one of the key elements of an appropriate risk assessment programme. Conducting noise surveys using the appropriate equipment allows you to identify who is at risk, to determine who needs to be included in your hearing protection programme, and helps you to choose the ideal controls and protective equipment needed to reduce risk in your work environment.
Certain operations, processes and machinery can routinely create high levels of noise. But do they really have to? Equipment and processes can be designed or altered to be quieter, thus reducing the number of employees in your hearing conservation programme.
Hearing protectors play an important role in hearing conservation. They must be comfortable, fit properly and provide adequate protection for the needs of the workplace. Compatibility with other PPE and the ease with which workers can communicate with each other while using the hearing protection must also be considered. Including individual fit testing of earplugs and earmuffs in your programme can help to educate your employees on the importance of hearing protection, and validate the Personal Attenuation Rating (PAR) achieved by each worker.
Are your employees showing symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)? It’s important that you routinely monitor your workers and check their hearing, to detect and record changes. You can then take the necessary steps needed to prevent permanent hearing loss.
Because noise-induced hearing loss usually happens gradually and the symptoms are not always apparent, it is vital to educate employees on the effects of exposure to loud noise and train them to properly use hearing protection. You may be able to improve the success of your hearing loss prevention efforts by strengthening worker training and motivation programmes.
Keeping confidential, accurate and up-to-date records of risk assessment, health monitoring and effective training on control measures (including selection and use of appropriate hearing protectors), helps you to manage and audit your hearing protection programme. It also helps you to protect your company and your employees in the long run.
Ensure that your hearing conservation programme is regularly evaluated, with employee feedback, responsibility reviews and cost analysis all taken into consideration. This will help to identify trends, highlight problem areas and drive improvement.
To access the complete list of Hearing Conservation Key Terms covered in this website, please download the 3M Hearing Conservation Centre Glossary.
As you explore the seven elements of occupational hearing conservation you will find information and resources in each of these categories:
• Key Takeaways – Important points on each topic
• Key Terms – Definitions of concepts and terms used
• Getting Started – Steps to implementing each of the program elements
• Requirements – A summary of what employers must do to comply with applicable regulations
• Beyond the Basics – Ideas for strengthening your program
• Have You Considered? – Questions to generate discussion about the effectiveness of your program
• Resources—Links to articles, tools and reference materials
The information and guidance detailed in the 3M Centre for Hearing Conservation is based on European requirements in general. However, your local legal requirements may be quite different. Always consult your national regulation for further information. This website contains an overview of general information and should not be relied upon to make specific decisions. Reading the information contained in this training programme does not certify proficiency in safety and health. The information compiled in this training programme is current as of the date of publication, and requirements can and may change in the future. This information should not be relied upon in isolation, as the content is often accompanied by additional and/or clarifying information. All applicable national laws and regulations must be followed.
Contact your local 3M office for further information.