The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, is a government agency that sets specific standards for healthy and safe working conditions. Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most prevalent occupational hazards, and it is associated with many industrial jobs. Workers in the mining, construction, military and manufacturing fields are at an especially high risk for noise-induced hearing loss, making it a critical health and safety issue. Because of this, employers of workers in these industries must establish and maintain a comprehensive audiometric testing program that includes industrial baseline audiograms and annual hearing evaluations in compliance with OSHA regulations.
Industrial baseline audiograms and annual hearing evaluations measure the acuity of an employee's hearing. Baseline audiograms are generally conducted as part of a new employee's physical examination to assess their hearing acuity as they begin employment. This exam is performed prior to the patient's exposure to any noise in the workplace.
Annual hearing examinations, conducted each year of the patient's employment, compare the employee's current hearing to his or her initial baseline audiogram to help determine whether there has been any significant hearing loss. The results of these examinations can often enable employers to make changes that will provide a safer working environment for employees, such as installing a muffler or building an acoustic barrier.