What Does Audiometric Testing Mean?
Audiometric testing is a type of hearing test that is performed to measure changes in a worker’s hearing ability over time.
It is a form of health surveillance conducted on workers who operate in noisy environments.
Safeopedia Explains Audiometric Testing
In most jurisdictions, employers must conduct intermittent audiometric testing on any employee who works in an environment with exposure to an eight-hour-time-weighted average (TWA) of 85 decibels (dB) or more. This allows the employer to monitor employees for hearing loss or changes in their ability to hear specific tones, referred to as “Standard Threshold Shifts (STS).”
As employers are required to provide employees in noisy environments with some level of hearing protection or otherwise limit their exposure to safe levels, evidence of hearing loss in an employee may indicate that the employer’s existing safety measures are inadequate for the level and type of noise to which the employee is being exposed.
Audiometric testing typically involves an initial baseline test of an employee’s hearing, ideally done before beginning work in a noisy environment but sometimes shortly after. This initial baseline allows the effect of the noisy environment to be monitored at an individual level through subsequent intermittent testing of the employee’s hearing.
In order for the test to be effective, audiometric testing equipment must be calibrated against the ambient noise levels present within the environment that it is being used in, and it cannot be used if noise levels are louder than a certain threshold. Furthermore, audiometric testing must be conducted by a qualified audiometric technician in consultation with a qualified physician, audiologist, or occupational health nurse.
Effective audiometric testing also involves the performance of an ear examination to ensure that the employee’s hearing is not affected by an unrelated pathology such as an infection. If a significant change in an employee’s hearing ability is detected, OSHA regulations require the employer to notify the employee of this fact within 21 days of receiving the test results. The employer must also make appropriate adjustments to the level of hearing protection provided to the employee in order to prevent further hearing loss.