The following is a basic summary of OSHA industrial hygiene testing requirements designed to protect employees from exposures to health hazards such as noise and chemicals.
Employers must not expose their employees to excessive levels of OSHA listed chemicals and contaminants, nor excessive noise levels. OSHA publishes PELs (permissible exposure limits) for noise and a wide array of chemicals and contaminants.
Employers must conduct exposure testing whenever a new suspect process, or suspect piece of equipment, is installed. No new testing is required unless something changes in your process which might impact/change the original testing results.
- If your company has suspect noise levels in a particular area, or multiple areas, then you must conduct noise testing to determine whether or not the noise exceeds their PEL.
- If noise levels exceed PEL over a weighted 8 hour period, then your company must either institute engineering changes, administrative changes (rotating shifts for example), or as a last resort, implement a Hearing Conservation Program which includes selection and use of adequate hearing protection, and baseline and annual hearing testing for impacted employees.
- If your company has suspect chemicals or contaminants in a particular area, or multiple areas, then you must conduct exposure testing to determine whether or not the levels exceeds their PEL.
- If levels exceed PEL(s), then your company must either institute engineering changes, administrative changes (rotating shifts for example), or as a last resort, implement a Respiratory Protection Program which has many management elements including proper selection of respirators, respirator fit testing, cartridge change schedules, annual medical evaluation, etc.
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