49 CFR Appendix C to Part 227, Audiometric Baseline Revision
This appendix is mandatory beginning on February 26, 2009.
A. A professional reviewer (audiologist, otolaryngologist, or physician) shall use these procedures when revising baseline audiograms.
B. Although these procedures can be programmed by a computer to identify records for potential revision, the final decision for revision rests with a human being. Because the goal of the guidelines is to foster consistency among different professional reviewers, human override of the guidelines must be justified by specific concrete reasons.
C. These procedures do not apply to: The identification of standard threshold shifts (STS) other than an FRA STS 1 or to the calculation of the 25-dB average shifts that are reportable on the Form FRA F 6180.55a.
D. Initially, the baseline is the latest audiogram obtained before entry into the hearing conservation program. If no appropriate pre-entry audiogram exists, the baseline is the first audiogram obtained after entry into the hearing conservation program. Each subsequent audiogram is reviewed to detect improvement in the average (average of thresholds at 2, 3, and 4 kHz) and to detect an FRA STS. The two ears are examined separately and independently for improvement and for worsening. If one ear meets the criteria for revision of baseline, then the baseline is revised for that ear only. Therefore, if the two ears show different hearing trends, the baseline for the left ear may be from one test date, while the baseline for the right ear may be from a different test date.
E. Age corrections do not apply in considering revisions for improvement (Rule 1). The FRA-allowed age corrections from appendix F of Part 227 2 may be used, if desired, before considering revision for persistent STS. Rule 2 operates in the same way, whether age corrections are used or not.
2 FRA and OSHA use the same age-correction provisions. FRA's is found in appendix F of part 227 and OSHA's in appendix F of 29 CFR 1910.95.
If the average of the thresholds for 2, 3, and 4 kHz for either ear shows an improvement of 5 dB or more from the baseline value, and the improvement is present on one test and persistent on the next test, then the record should be identified for review by the audiologist, otolaryngologist, or physician for potential revision of the baseline for persistent improvement. The baseline for that ear should be revised to the test which shows the lower (more sensitive) value for the average of thresholds at 2, 3, and 4 kHz unless the audiologist, otolaryngologist, or physician determines and documents specific reasons for not revising. If the values of the three-frequency average are identical for the two tests, then the earlier test becomes the revised baseline.
A. If the average of thresholds for 2, 3, and 4 kHz for either ear shows a worsening of 10 dB or more from the baseline value, and the STS persists on the next periodic test (or the next test given at least 6 months later), then the record should be identified for review by the audiologist, otolaryngologist, or physician for potential revision of the baseline for persistent worsening. Unless the audiologist, otolaryngologist, or physician determines and documents specific reasons for not revising, the baseline for that ear should be revised to the test which shows the lower (more sensitive) value for the average of thresholds at 2, 3, and 4 kHz. If both tests show the same numerical value for the average of 2, 3, and 4 kHz, then the audiologist, otolaryngologist, or physician should revise the baseline to the earlier of the two tests, unless the later test shows better (more sensitive) thresholds for other test frequencies.
B. Following an STS, a retest within 90 days of the periodic test may be substituted for the periodic test if the retest shows better (more sensitive) results for the average threshold at 2, 3, and 4 kHz.
C. If the retest is used in place of the periodic test, then the periodic test is retained in the record, but it is marked in such a way that it is no longer considered in baseline revision evaluations. If a retest within 90 days of periodic test confirms an FRA STS shown on the periodic test, the baseline will not be revised at that point because the required six-month interval between tests showing STS persistence has not been met. The purpose of the six-month requirement is to prevent premature baseline revision when STS is the result of temporary medical conditions affecting hearing.
D. Although a special retest after six months could be given, if desired, to assess whether the STS is persistent, in most cases, the next annual audiogram would be used to evaluate persistence of the STS.