3M Online Hearing Conservation Resource

Expands personal protective equipment support for occupational health and safety managers

3M™ Personal Safety Division has launched a new online resource, the 3M Center for Hearing Conservation. Safety managers can find articles and details about the seven elements of a hearing loss prevention program, as well as helpful videos, toolkits, fast facts, and more.

Operating a successful workplace hearing conservation program is just one of many challenging tasks health and safety managers face. Each day, they must enforce all applicable rules and regulations while providing the right equipment, training, and support for their noise-exposed workforce. The 3M Center for Hearing Conservation makes this easier.

Created by 3M audiologists and occupational health and safety specialists, the 3M Center for Hearing Conservation can help companies as they work to ensure that legal requirements are met and that workers remain engaged and motivated.

“We have known for decades that exposure to high noise causes hearing damage over time. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are tens of thousands of work-related cases of noise-induced hearing loss reported each year. There are solutions, but it can be challenging for employers to develop effective preventive programs,” said Dr. Laurie Wells, a doctor of audiology at 3M. “With the Center for Hearing Conservation, we are providing health and safety managers additional tools and resources to help prevent hearing damage within the workplace.”

3M Center for Hearing Conservation outlines seven elements based on OSHA requirements and NIOSH recommendations to help guide occupational health and safety professionals as they work to create and maintain a hearing conservation program:

  1. Measure – Accurate measurement of employee exposure to hazardous noise is essential. Conducting noise surveys using 3M Detection Solutions can help you identify who is at risk, determine who needs to be included in your program and select the proper controls and protective equipment to help reduce the risks.
  2. Control – Certain operations and machinery create high noise levels. But do they have to? Equipment and processes can be designed or altered to be quieter, reducing the number of employees in your conservation program.
  3. Protect – Hearing protectors play an important role in hearing conservation. They must be comfortable, fit properly and provide adequate protection for the environment. Compatibility with other PPE and the workers’ ability to communicate must also be considered. Including individual fit testing of earplugs and earmuffs in your program can help you educate your employees on the importance of hearing protection and validate the Personal Attenuation Rating (PAR) achieved by each worker.
  4. Check – Are your employees showing symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss? It’s important to routinely use standardized measurement procedures to check their hearing to detect and record changes, so you can take steps to prevent permanent hearing loss.
  5. Train – 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 programs.
  6. Record – Keeping confidential, accurate, and up-to-date records of noise surveys, actions taken, instrument calibrations, audiometric tests, attenuation ratings, and training helps you manage and audit your program. And helps protect your company and your employees in the long run.
  7. Evaluate – Make sure your hearing conservation program is working with regular program evaluations that include employee feedback, responsibility reviews, and cost analysis. This will identify trends, magnify problem areas, and drive improvement.

The 3M Center for Hearing Conservation joins the ranks of a number of online resources provided by 3M Personal Safety Division including:

  • Center for Respiratory Protection
  • Safety Now & Next Blog
  • Silica Tool Kit

Visit 3m.com/CHC to learn more about hearing conservation.