Employers have a responsibility to develop a safe workplace for staff, and this extends beyond eliminating obvious physical risks. There are many other potential workplace risks that could negatively impact the wellbeing of staff, and their ability to perform their role. For example, staff across various industries may be exposed to noise exposure risks whilst onsite, and employees in many industries need to have effective hearing, as it helps keep them alert of their surroundings, recognise potential noise risks, and ensure that they can perform their job well. That is why business’ should conduct regular audiometric testing on their staff, to ensure they are working in a compliant, safe environment, and that noises do not exceed regulatory levels.
This process sees a team of audiometric specialists travel out to worksites in a mobile testing van, and conduct individual hearing tests on staff, in a process that lasts for approximately fifteen minutes. It is a simple procedure, and helps business’ develop compliant, safe workplaces.
When it comes to audiometric testing, companies may be wondering two things: what does it involve, and in what ways does it benefit my business? The good news is the process itself is straightforward. Audiometric testers travel to your worksite, and conduct tests on individual employees, where they will put on some headphones. Through these, a range of sounds, of varying pitches and levels, will be played. The person is asked to acknowledge when they have heard a sound, and through this process the testers can gauge where their current hearing levels are at. Further, by conducting testing across periodic intervals, testers will be able to ascertain whether direct hearing loss has occurred over time.
The obligations of employers
Employers in Victoria have workplace noise obligations they must comply with to ensure their worksites remain compliant. All business’ within the state should comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017, which specifies several actions business’ can take to ensure their worksites remain compliant, including:
- Regular audiometric testing of relevant staff. Specifically, every employee who must wear hearing protection as part of their role is required to undergo audiometric testing within three months of beginning their employment. Further, they must have regular follow-up tests, at periodic durations not exceeding two years. This allows the testers to compare results over time, and track whether staff incurred significant hearing loss across time.
- Employers must be presented with copies of the audiometric report. Business’ need to know whether their staff have incurred hearing loss or are at risk of incurring it. After audiometric tests are conducted, business’ are given reports, which clearly outline the findings, state whether staff have incurred hearing loss, and provide clear direction about what business’ should be doing to achieve and remain compliance.
- What business’ can do to manage noise risks. If there is a high risk of noise exposure at a worksite, employers should be taking action to mitigate the risks, and ensure staff safety. Whether it be by providing their employees with hearing protection, increased frequency of audiometric testing, or working to directly bring loud noises down to compliant levels, there are practical actions that business’ can, and should, follow to keep onsite noise levels within compliance.
Businesses receive numerous benefits by undergoing audiometric testing
By undergoing regular audiometric testing of their staff, business’ stand to gain several benefits, including ensuring staff wellbeing, meeting their regulatory obligations, and also protecting their company from worker compensation claims, as the business will have successfully demonstrated that they are meeting all their regulatory obligations. Specifically, audiometric testing services will allow business’ to:
- Demonstrate to staff that they have a commitment to quality and safety. Audiometric tests are conducted by qualified audiometrists, who specialise in administering it, and interpreting the results. This means that they will be able to reassure staff about the quality of the process, answer questions about the specifics of the procedure, help business’ to understand the results, and so on. This level of commitment demonstrates to staff and regulatory bodies that a business takes its noise compliance obligations seriously.
- Understand the baseline hearing levels of staff. Before undergoing periodic audiometric testing, business’ need to establish what the baseline hearing abilities of individual staff are. This will provide them with results upon which other tests can be compared to, to establish the extent of hearing loss over time. Simply undergoing an audiometric test, without establishing a baseline, does not tell testers when the hearing loss occurred or the extent of it.
- Protect themselves from liability claims. By undergoing routine audiometric testing services, business’ are publicly proving their commitment to achieving compliance and ensuring their staff’s wellbeing. This not only upholds the reputation of the company, it also protects itself from liability claims, as the business will be able to demonstrate that it has taken the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of its staff, and that workplace noise remains within compliant levels.
Good hearing may be one of those things that many people take for granted, as they do not realise how much they rely on it until they no longer have it. Staff across many worksites require effective hearing, as it helps keep them aware of their surroundings, allows them to communicate effectively, and helps them maintain their productivity. That is why it is crucial for business’ to undergo regular audiometric testing and in the process, demonstrate to staff their commitment to high safety standards.
If you would like to arrange for audiometric testing on your staff, then please contact Anitech’s specialist noise consultants today, by email at email@example.com or phone on 1300 802 163. They will be able to talk you through any questions you may have, and arrange for our audiometric specialists to travel to your worksite to conduct the tests, under COVID-Safe conditions. Doesn’t that sound like something worth hearing more about?
Please click here to read more about how audiometric testing minimises noise risks.