Noise Reduction and Hearing Conservation 121

In the class Noise Reduction and Hearing Conservation, students will learn about the effects of sound and noise on the body and how to protect themselves from related injuries. Occupational hearing loss is preventable through hearing conservation.

The two main types of hearing loss are conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. Hearing loss may be caused by excess noise, hereditary factors, certain drugs, or illnesses. When excessive noise is present, employees must be provided with hearing protection. Using proper hearing protection will help ensure that ears remain capable of detecting important and subtle sound changes.

Students enrolled in this course will learn various ways to protect their hearing and why preventative measures should be taken to avoid hearing damage. They will be able to describe OSHA regulations regarding noise levels and hearing conservation and the impact had on daily operations in the workplace.

  • Difficulty Beginner

  • Format Online

  • Number of Lessons 16

  • Language English


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Course Outline
  • The Importance of Hearing Conservation
  • Sound vs. Noise
  • How Noise Affects Ear Anatomy
  • Types of Hearing Loss: Conductive
  • Types of Hearing Loss: Sensorineural
  • Hearing Conservation Program
  • Hearing Conservation and Loss Review
  • Measuring and Monitoring Noise Exposure Levels
  • Engineering Changes and Administrative Controls
  • Hearing Testing, Monitoring, and Record Keeping
  • Measuring Noise and Monitoring Exposure
  • Hearing Protection Requirements
  • Types of Hearing Protection
  • Employee Training
  • The Benefits and Risks of Using Hearing Protection
  • Final Review
  • Describe the importance of hearing conservation.
  • Distinguish between sound and noise.
  • Describe how noise affects ear anatomy.
  • Describe conductive hearing loss.
  • Describe sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Describe OSHA's requirements for employers' hearing conservation programs.
  • Identify ways that employers measure and monitor noise exposure levels.
  • Describe engineering changes and administrative controls for hearing conservation.
  • Define audiometric testing.
  • Describe OSHA's requirements for hearing protection.
  • Distinguish between the different types of hearing protection.
  • Describe the types of hearing conservation training that employers must provide their employees.
  • Describe the benefits and risks of using hearing protection.
Vocabulary Term

acoustic filtering earplugs

Also known as volume-reducing earplugs and acoustic filtering earplugs. A newer variety of ear protection that reduces the sound volume in an environment without losing sound quality. Volume-reducing earplugs are often used by musicians.

acoustic wave

Acoustic waves are the result of a vibrating source disturbing the air. Acoustic waves cause sound.

administrative controls

Modifications to aspects of a workplace like staffing, schedules, or procedures. Administrative controls reduce employees' exposure to noise.

air pressure

The weight or force that air exerts due to its motion. Air pressure can be changed by acoustic waves.


A person who is trained to perform hearing tests and evaluate hearing loss. An audiologist may suggest an employee wear particular hearing PPE depending on the state of the person's hearing.

audiometric testing

A series of hearing tests used to measure hearing over time. Audiometric testing detects any changes that may have occurred.

baseline audiogram

A hearing test used to determine an employee's level of hearing ability before it is affected by a work environment. A baseline audiogram will detect any hearing deficiencies that already exist for a person.

chronic noise

Unwanted sound that occurs continuously or repeatedly with little interruption. Exposure to chronic noise can cause hearing loss.


Tiny hair-like projections that move according to pressure changes. Cilia transmit vibrations within the inner ear.

conductive hearing loss

A loss of sound perception that is associated with the outer ear and may be medically or surgically corrected. Causes of conductive hearing loss include infection, excess wax, or a blow to the head.

custom-fit earplugs

Earplugs that are molded to fit a specific individual's ears. Professionals fit custom-fit earplugs.


dB. A unit of measurement of the intensity of a sound wave. Decibels measure how loud sounds are.

disposable earplugs

A type of hearing protection that can be thrown away after use. Disposable earplugs are often made of waxed cotton, foam, or silicone rubber.


An instrument that measures total noise exposure over time. A dosimeter is often worn by the employee on the shoulder to measure individual noise exposure.


A vibrating membrane that stretches across the inner end of the ear canal. Vibrations on the eardrum are transformed into nerve impulses.


Personal protective equipment that covers the entire outer ear. Earmuffs consist of two ear coverings connected by a band.

engineering controls

Modifications to machinery and other components to prevent or reduce noise production. An example of an engineering control is enclosing a machine motor to reduce the amount of noise entering the environment.

excessive noise exposure

The point at which a worker has suffered exposure to noise that surpasses safe exposure levels. Excessive noise exposure can cause hearing loss and injury.

hair cells

Sensory cells within the inner ear that support the cilia. Hair cells transform the mechanical energy of sound waves into nerve impulses.

hazardous noise

Unwanted sound that is capable of harming hearing. Hazardous noise is usually loud, but some high-pitched noises can harm the ears without being heard.

hearing conservation

Different measures taken to reduce exposure to noise. Hearing conservation includes wearing hearing protection.

hearing conservation program

HCP. A formal program that consists of several components intended to prevent worker hearing loss. HCPs must include noise evaluations, hearing tests, and hearing protection.

hearing loss

A reduced ability to hear sounds. Noise exposure and heredity are two causes of hearing loss.


The transmission of characteristics from one generation to the next. Hearing loss can be an inherited characteristic.

inner ear

The interior portion of the ear. The inner ear transforms the mechanical movement of vibration on the eardrum into nerve impulses.

middle ear

The air-filled central portion of the ear. The middle ear converts and amplifies waves in the ear canal into a vibration in the eardrum.

molded earplugs

Also known as pre-formed earplugs. These earplugs are molded to fit a specific individual's ears. Professionals fit all pre-formed ear protection.

nerve impulses

Electrical signals that send and receive information to and from the brain. Nerve impulses are perceived as sounds in the brain.


Any unwanted sound. Noise can occur over a short or long period of time.

noise filtering earplugs

Also called acoustic filtering and volume-reducing earplugs. A newer variety of ear protection that reduces the sound volume in an environment without losing sound quality. Volume-reducing earplugs are often used by musicians.

Noise Reduction Rating

NRR. A guideline that estimates the potential amount of protection a hearing protection device may provide. Noise reduction ratings can help users to select appropriate hearing protection based on the noise levels of the work they are doing.

occupational hearing loss

A reduced ability to hear sounds that is caused by exposure to loud noise in the workplace. Hearing loss can negatively impact a worker's ability to do a job effectively.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

OSHA. A government agency that sets the standards for working conditions in the United States. It ensures that employees work in safe and healthy environments.

outer ear

The external portion of the ear that modifies the sound waves in the environment. The outer ear directs sound waves toward the eardrum.

personal protective equipment

PPE. Any clothing or devices worn to minimize exposure to hazards and prevent injury. Earplugs are commonly used when hearing PPE is needed.

pre-formed earplugs

Also known as molded earplugs. These earplugs that are molded to fit a specific individual's ears. Professionals fit all pre-formed ear protection.

sensorineural hearing loss

Irreversible hearing loss that is associated with the inner ear. Causes of sensorineural hearing loss include heredity, chronic noise exposure, and certain medications.

silicone rubber

A soft, pliable material that is selected for its flexibility and resilience. Silicone rubber is often used to make pre-formed earplugs.

single-use earplugs

A type of hearing protection that is disposable. Single-use earplugs are often made of waxed cotton, foam, or silicone rubber.


The physical phenomenon that stimulates the sense of hearing. Sound is an acoustic wave that results when a vibrating source disturbs the air.

sound-level meter

A measuring instrument used to determine loudness. Sound-level meters can be used in place of noise dosimeters when dosimeters are unavailable or inappropriate.

time-weighted average

A measure of noise exposure that is an average of varying levels of noise experienced in a given amount of time. Noise exposure should stay within certain levels to keep employees safe.

volume-reducing earplugs

Also known as volume-reducing earplugs or acoustic filtering earplugs. A newer variety of ear protection that reduces the sound volume in an environment without losing sound quality. Volume-reducing earplugs are often used by musicians.