4. Procedures

Exposure Monitoring

EH&S performs noise exposure monitoring of faculty, staff, and students who may be exposed to noise over Cal/OSHA's 85 dBA Action Level on an eight­-hour time­weighted average basis. Personal or area noise monitoring is conducted to identify employees and students for inclusion in the Hearing Conservation Program and to enable the proper selection of hearing protectors. Area noise monitoring is also used to identify campus locations or specific equipment and activities where average noise levels exceed Cal/OSHA's 85 dBA Action Limit (AL). These are areas where hearing protection should always be worn and signs should be posted to alert employees, students, and visitors to the required use of hearing protectors.

Employees or their supervisors should contact EH&S to schedule noise monitoring if they suspect exposures to excessive noise on the job, or if previously monitored noise levels may have changed due to modifications to equipment or processes. EH&S should also be contacted to schedule monitoring if the hearing protectors in use are suspected of being inadequate. If desired, employees or their representatives may observe the noise monitoring procedure by arranging with EH&S prior to the date of the monitoring.

Persons whose noise exposures have been monitored will receive written notification of their exposure monitoring results from EH&S. Persons whose eight­hour time­weighted average noise exposure exceeds the Action Level will be enrolled in the campus Hearing Conservation Program. These individuals should receive audiometric testing, will have hearing protectors made available to them by their supervisors and will be provided training on the fitting, use, and care of these devices.

Persons whose eight­hour time­weighted average noise exposure is less than 85 dBA will not be enrolled in the campus Hearing Conservation Program, and generally do not require audiometric testing, training, or the use of hearing protectors. Additional monitoring of their personal noise exposures should not be required unless a significant change is perceived in the workplace noise level.

Audiometric Testing

UHS performs annual audiometric testing on all persons enrolled in the Hearing Conservation Program. The cost of the test must be covered by the employee’s department and be provided free to the employee. Prior to significant work­related noise exposure, employees will establish a “baseline audiogram.” Subsequent audiograms will be compared against this baseline. If it is determined that an employee has a Standard Threshold Shift, as defined above, he or she will be notified in writing within 21 days of STS determination. Such individuals will be retrained on the hazards and precautions of working in noisy environments and will be issued hearing protection devices if determined appropriate by EH&S and UHS. Other modifications to the workplace may also be needed to reduce noise exposures to prevent additional hearing loss.

Hearing Protectors

Campus departments must provide hearing protectors (earplugs or earmuffs) to each of their employees exposed at or above the 85 dBA Action Level. Hearing protectors must be provided free of cost to the wearer, and must be replaced when broken, defective, or unsanitary. At least two brands or types of hearing protectors must be made available for selection by the wearer.

At UC Berkeley, the use of hearing protectors is required:

  • For all personnel who are exposed above the 85 dBA Action Level
  • In all areas posted or otherwise designated as requiring hearing protection.

A hearing protector's ability to reduce noise is measured as its Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). The greater the NRR, the better the noise attenuation. The NRR is usually listed on the hearing protector's box. EH&S can help determine appropriate types of hearing protectors for specific situations and can provide training on the proper use of hearing protectors.

It is the responsibility of Managers, Principal Investigators, and Supervisors to ensure that those personnel under their supervision wear proper hearing protectors wherever required. Managers, Principal Investigators, and Supervisors must also ensure that areas where noise levels are known to exceed the 85 dBA Action Limit are posted as requiring the use of hearing protectors.


UHS provides annual training for all persons enrolled in the Hearing Conservation Program. This training covers:

  • The effects of noise on hearing,
  • The purpose of hearing protectors; the advantages, disadvantages, and attenuation of various types; and instructions on selection, fitting, use, and care of hearing protectors,
  • The purpose of audiometric testing and an explanation of audiometric test procedures.

Additional training on noise hazards and their control is available upon request from EH&S.

Record Keeping

EH&S maintains records of all personal exposure monitoring and the UHS Occupational Health Clinic maintains all audiometric testing records for persons enrolled in the Hearing Conservation Program. Exposure monitoring records are maintained for a minimum of two years, and audiometric test results are maintained for at least thirty years after the employee’s last test. These records are available upon request to employees or designated employee representatives.

Campus Resources

For additional information on noise hazards, hearing protection, or the Campus Hearing Conservation Program, contact EH&S at 642-­3073, or the UHS Occupational Health Clinic at 642­-6891.