Hearing tests and the changes to the Noise Regulations

Why do we complete audio assessments in the workplace?

Employers have a legal responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and other health and safety laws to comply with requests for health surveillance (HS). This includes noise exposure.

What are we looking at within the Audio Health surveillance?

When we complete audios, we are looking at whether the hearing is being affected by the workplace, not their functional hearing ability. We also complete the audio health assessments to ensure that your control measures are adequate and are protecting your workforce.

Why have audio referrals to Occupational Health Physicians (OHP’s) increased?

Due to recent changes in the Noise Regulations, employees with potential/possible hearing loss at specific frequencies may require review. This has caused an initial increase in the number of referrals, although once they have been seen by the OHP, if there are no further changes in their audio assessment in future assessments, they will not need to be seen further by the OHP.

What’s changed in the regulations?

We now need to review anyone with potential/possible hearing loss at set frequencies, possibly due to the workplace or their hobbies and social activities (we are not looking at age-related hearing loss). It is, therefore, the OHP’s job to discuss this further with the employee, assess where the hearing loss has come from, and ensure it does not deteriorate any further.

What am I responsible for?

As the employer, you are responsible for ensuring you are meeting the regulations at work noise criteria; if you have a noisy working environment, you need to ensure that you provide adequate control measures to protect your employee’s hearing. You are also responsible for ensuring the control measures work effectively through health surveillance.

How often should audio assessments be carried out?

It is essential that we get a baseline reading for any new employee starting at a company to assess their current hearing. Ideally, they need to have baseline health surveillance within the first few weeks of starting employment. This will then be compared with any further assessments to identify if there is any hearing loss while in employment with you. The standard recall for audio health surveillance is baseline, one year, two years, and then every three years if there are no problems. If there are any declared symptoms of hearing issues or visual hearing loss on the audiogram, the clinician may wish for them to be seen outside the normal health surveillance recall.

If you need any help with having audios carried out on your staff or any questions regarding the new regulations, then please get in touch with us, and we can discuss your concerns or requirements in more depth.