49 CFR Appendix E to Part 227, Use of Insert Earphones for Audiometric Testing

Appendix E to Part 227 - Use of Insert Earphones for Audiometric Testing

This appendix is mandatory.

Section 227.111(d) allows railroads to use insert earphones for audiometric testing. Railroads are not required to use insert earphones, however, where they elect to use insert earphones, they must comply with the requirements of this appendix.

I. Acceptable Fit

A. The audiologist, otolaryngologist, or other physician responsible for conducting the audiometric testing, shall identify ear canals that prevent achievement of an acceptable fit with insert earphones, or shall assure that any technician under his/her authority who conducts audiometric testing with insert earphones has the ability to identify such ear canals.

B. Technicians who conduct audiometric tests must be trained to insert the earphones correctly into the ear canals of test subjects and to recognize conditions where ear canal size prevents achievement of an acceptable insertion depth (fit).

C. Insert earphones shall not be used for audiometric testing of employees with ear canal sizes that prevent achievement of an acceptable insertion depth (fit).

II. Proper Use

The manufacturer's guidelines for proper use of insert earphones must be followed.

III. Audiometer Calibration

A. Audiometers used with insert earphones must be calibrated in accordance with ANSI S3.6-2004, “Specification for Audiometers.” The Director of the Federal Register approves the incorporation by reference of this standard in this section in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 1 CFR part 51. You may obtain a copy of the incorporated standard from the American National Standards Institute at 1819 L Street, NW., Washington, DC 20036 or http://www.ansi.org. You may inspect a copy of the incorporated standard at the Federal Railroad Administration, Docket Room, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590, or at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal_regulations/ibr_locations.html.

B. Audiometers used with insert earphones must be calibrated using one of the couplers listed in Table 7 of ANSI S3.6-2004.

C. The acoustical calibration shall be conducted annually.

D. The functional calibration must be conducted before each day's use of the audiometer.

IV. Background Noise Levels

Testing shall be conducted in a room where the background ambient noise octave-band sound pressures levels meet appendix D to this part.

V. Conversion From Supra Aural Earphones

At the time of conversion from supra-aural to insert earphones, testing must be performed with both types of earphones.

A. The test subject must have a quiet period of at least 14 hours before testing. Hearing protectors may be used as a substitute for the quiet period.

B. The supra-aural earphone audiogram shall be compared to the baseline audiogram, or the revised baseline audiogram if appropriate, to check for a Standard Threshold Shift (STS). In accordance with § 227.109(f)(2), if the audiogram shows an STS, retesting with supra-aural earphones must be performed within 90 days. If the resulting audiogram confirms the STS, then it is adopted as the current test instead of the prior one.

C. If retesting with supra-aural earphones is performed, then retesting with insert earphones must be performed at that time to establish the baseline for future audiometric tests using the insert earphones.

VI. Revised Baseline Audiograms

A. If an STS is confirmed by the re-test with supra-aural earphones, the audiogram may become the revised baseline audiogram per the requirements of § 227.109(i) for all future hearing tests with supra-aural earphones. The insert-earphone audiogram will become the new reference baseline audiogram for all future hearing tests performed with insert earphones.

B. If an STS is not indicated by the test with supra-aural earphones, the baseline audiogram remains the reference baseline audiogram for all future supra-aural earphone tests, until such time as an STS is observed. In this case, the insert-earphone audiogram taken at the same time will become the new reference baseline audiogram for all future hearing tests performed with insert earphones.

C. Transitioning Employees with Partial Shifts. Employers must account for the workers who are in the process of developing an STS (e.g., demonstrate a 7 dB average shift), but who at the time of the conversion to insert earphones do not have a 10 dB average shift. Employers who want to use insert earphones must enter the 7 dB shift information in the employee's audiometric test records although it is not an “STS”. When the next annual audiogram using insert earphones shows an average threshold shift at 2000, 3000 and 4000 Hz of 3 dB, completing the full shift (7 dB 3 dB), employers must then label that average shift as an STS. This triggers the follow-up procedures at § 227.109(h).

VII. Records

All audiograms (including both those produced through the use of insert earphones and supra-aural headsets), calculations, pure-tone individual and average threshold shifts, full STS migrations, and audiometric acoustical calibration records, are to be preserved as records and maintained according to § 227.121(c).

[ 71 FR 63123, Oct. 27, 2006, as amended at 74 FR 25173, May 27, 2009]

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