Noise is a common physical hazard at BCIT. Early hearing impairment usually starts at high frequencies and may initially be unperceivable. Over time, if noise is too loud, it can cause permanent hearing loss.
Hearing conservation and audiometric program
The BCIT Hearing Conservation Program has been developed to minimize employee, student, contractor, and visitor exposure to hazardous sound levels and ensures compliance with WorkSafeBC regulations.
Hearing conservation is made up of three elements:
- Noise Control – Where possible, engineering controls must be instituted to reduce or eliminate the noise. This may include installation of vibration mounts and barriers, or redesign of some processes. Specifying noise levels of new equipment encourages manufacturers to produce quieter models.
- Hearing Protection – When noise cannot be eliminated, personal hearing protection is required. Both earmuffs and earplugs are good protectors and the employee should have a choice to get a good fit. Hearing protection must be maintained in good condition.
- Industrial Audiometry – Annual tests provide a monitor of hearing conservation effectiveness and act as a strong personal motivator for worker understanding about her/his hearing and to protect it properly.
The program requires that all employees, instructors, entry level and apprentice trade students who are exposed to noise in the workplace must be hearing tested annually. Workers and students who are exposed to noise levels exceeding 85 dBA must wear hearing protection devices.
The BCIT Burnaby Campus has an ‘in house’ audiometric testing facility and a WorkSafeBC certified Industrial Audiometric Technician (IAT) onsite. The primary responsibility of the IAT is to schedule and process hearing tests for noise exposed workers on campus. Audiometric testing is also offered to employees who have medical, trauma or age related hearing loss. In addition, employees who are interested in having a hearing test done as part of a routine physical or general auditory acuity monitoring are welcome to make use of this service.
Information for audiometric tests on Burnaby campus is as follows:
- Audiometric Office: NE16–127
- Operating Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. (by appointment)
- Industrial Audiometric Technician: 604-432-8712
Procedures have also been developed for Satellite campuses to arrange annual hearing tests for their employees and students through private contract companies.
Education is a priority. The following means are used to inform staff and students about noise levels, hazards to hearing and ways to prevent hearing loss:
- Entry Level (ELTT) – a one hour in class education session
- 1st year Apprentices – WCB Hearing Video (20 minutes)
- 2nd – 4th year Apprentices – WorkSafeBC pamphlets
- OH&S students – hands on audio lab/practicum (2 hours)
- Nursing students – hand on audio lab/practicum (2 hours)
- BCIT Instructors – class information session & WorkSafeBC video
- BCIT Employees – information sessions, updates & personal counselling
- BCIT General Public – health & safety fairs & q&a sessions with the IAT
This program can be used as a means for education. It also provides a general guideline for departments to develop their activity specific hearing protection plans.