Simply stated... noise is any unwanted sound. Noise-induced hearing loss begins to occur with prolonged exposure to any noise at or above 85 decibels. Hearing loss is generally painless, progressive over time and permanent. Although it has been identified as the leading occupational disability, noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. The goal of OSU's Hearing Conservation Program is to identify and control noise hazards and protect employees who have a potential to develop noise-induced hearing loss.