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Noise Exposure Assessment and Control

Learn how the Hearing Conservation Program is implemented to protect affected UC San Diego employees from occupational noise.

How to request a noise exposure assessment

Employees or supervisors concerned about occupational noise levels should request a noise exposure assessment if:

  • There is routine exposure to excessive workplace noise
  • Previously monitored noise levels have possibly changed due to modifications in equipment or work processes
  • Hearing protectors currently in use are suspected of being inadequate

Contact EH&S Occupational Health & Hygiene Services at ehsih@ucsd.edu to schedule monitoring. As a result of noise exposure assessment, some employees may be required to participate in the Hearing Conservation Program.

The assessment process

An industrial hygienist from Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) will monitor and assess noise exposure in the workplace.

EH&S will perform 2 kinds of evaluations:

  1. Preliminary noise survey – Intended as an overview of noise exposure, this is a "walk-through" survey of the facility with a sound-level meter. Variations in noise levels due to shifting changes or operation of noise-generating equipment are taken into consideration.
  2. Detailed noise survey Performed when data from the preliminary survey indicate the need for more specific monitoring, the detailed survey will:
    • Use a noise dosimeter to provide specific information about the noise levels at individual workstations
    • Evaluate employee exposure averaged out over an 8-hour workday
    • Define areas that should be designated as a noise hazard area and require the use of hearing protection

Read about Permissible Exposure Limits for Occupational Noise.

Exposure control

If possible, controls are implemented to reduce noise exposure. EH&S may recommend several measures to reduce noise. Possibilities include the following:

  • Engineering controls:
    • Quieter machinery
    • Quieter processes
    • Reduction of noise transmission
    • Isolation or insulation of equipment or the equipment operator
    • Proper maintenance of machinery and equipment
  • Administrative controls:
    • Rotation of employees to limit exposure times
    • Flexible machinery operation schedules to limit exposure
    • Task rotation to reduce the amount of time an employee must spend in a noisy area
    • Purchasing procedures that specify maximum noise levels

Where controls are not feasible and during evaluation of the controls, employees will receive hearing protective equipment.

If controls do not reduce noise levels to acceptable levels, employees are enrolled in the Hearing Conservation Program.