Audiometry Q&A

The testing routine

What are the results categories used in audiometry?
How long does the audiometry take?
How many hearing tests can hsmc do in one day?
Will you come and do the audiometry on our site?
What is the recommended audiometry re-test schedule?

Confidentiality, waivers, non-attendance and claims

Will I get more claims because we tell people they have a problem?
Will I get a copy of the audiometry results - are they confidential?
Do I need employees to sign a waiver so I can see the audiometry results?
How should I store or keep the audiometry report?
Employees refuse to attend the audiometry - is it mandatory?

Report, pricing and other on-the-day questions

How long does it take to get my audiometry report back following the testing?
What do you charge - per test or per day?


THE TESTING ROUTINE

What are the results categories used in audiometry ?

In order to ensure a simple and verifiable system for analysing the results of the hearing tests the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have specified a 4-part categorisation system which is used by HSMC. To summarise these into plain English:

  • Category 1 - good and no problems with hearing
  • Category 2 - just about OK but slightly lower than we would like
  • Category 3 - a loss which is in excess of the normal standard for their age
  • Category 4 - a rapid loss identified by comparing two results

There is also a classification called 'unilateral' which is where one ear is performing at a lower level than the other (ears are generally in balance so one weaker one may be a sign of a problem). All results take into account the employee's age - as we get older hearing deteriorated naturally therefore we take this into account when analysing the results.

How long does the audiometry take?
Each test takes approximately 15 minutes from start to finish although Year 2+ comparison tests often take a little less.

How many hearing tests can you do in one day?
We can undertake around 25 tests in a standard day but we can modify this to take account of shifts, etc. We also work nights if you have a night shift which requires testing meaning our daily testing numbers rise to around 60 to 70 where both day and night shifts are worked.

Will you come and do the audiometry on our site?
Yes, we are nice like that. We have portable audiometry units with built in waiting rooms and testing booths, ( some photos).

We can also do the audiometry testing in a meeting room if one is availble which means a cost saving can then be passed on to the client.

What is the recommended audiometry re-testing schedule?
Audiometry
is not a one-shot procedure. The Control of Noise At Work Regulations 2005 guidance document contains a recommended schedule for repeat tests which employers should follow.

In this schedule 'Year 1' is the first year in which you conduct the audiometry, etc.

Year 1

Audiometry for all employees exposed to levels of 85dB(A) or above.
Year 2

Everyone again, i.e. all employees working in noise levels of 85dB(A) or above again. This allows a check that their hearing is not deteriorating and can identify losses before they become detrimental to their health.
Ongoing
Future audiometry is dependant on the results of the previous hearing tests:

Anyone who is still Category 1 (i.e normal hearing) should be retested every three years.

Anyone who is Category 2 (i.e. a slight reduction but not too bad) should be retested every two years.

Anyone who is Category 3 or Category 4 should be retested every year.


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CONFIDENTIALITY, NON-ATTENDANCE, WAIVERS AND CLAIMS


Will I get more claims because we tell people they have a problem?
Usually not. Some level of hearing loss is perfectly normal - pretty much everyone over the age of 20 or so often has a degree of hearing loss from a variety of sources including ill health, age and a miss-spent noisy youth. Also, to classify as a claim the loss must meet criteria set by the DSS which are generally quite severe. In addition, any losses must be linked to employment for a claim to take place which is not as easy as it sounds.

Will I get a copy of your audiometry results - are they confidential?
We've given a lot of detail, probably more than your will to live can cope with, on the audiometry confidentiality page.

Do I need employees to sign a waiver so we can see the audiometry results?
Same again, have a gander at the audiometry confidentilaity page.

How should I store or keep the audiometry results
Confidentiality is vital here and it is important that this is well managed. The report will be provided to the person nominated within the employer's organisation as being responsible for the health surveillance but they, and only they, may have access to it. Any information which is personally identifiable must not be circulated within the company and the report must be stored securely and separate from any HR records.


Employees refuse to attend the audiometry - is it mandatory?
In a nutshell, yes it is. Employers must provide audiometry in working hours and the regulations explicitly state that employees must attend.

Regulation 9(1): …the employer shall ensure that employees [who are at risk meaning exposed to noise levels above 85dB(A)] are placed under suitable health surveillance, which shall include testing of their hearing.

Regulation 9(5): Any employee to whom this regulation applies shall, when required by his employer and at the cost of his employer, present himself during his working hours for such health surveillance procedures as may be required for the purposes of paragraph (1).

Refusal to attend their hearing test without good reason should therefore be treated the same as a refusal to comply with any other health and safety requirement, using the company disciplinary procedure up to and including dismissal.


REPORTS AND PRICE STRUCTURE


How long does it take to get my audiometry report back following the testing?
Once we've completed the test we aim to get your report back within a week to 10 days. For smaller tests (up to 40 people) we often manage to return the report to you more quickly.

What do you charge - per test or per day?
"Both" is the short (but unhelpful) answer. For larger jobs a per-test rate is calculated but there is a minimum charge per day.

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