The categories of audiometry result

In the workplace, the classification of audiometry results is done according to criteria laid down by Satan's Imp's at the HSE, (Health and Safety Executive). There are four main classifications which you will see on the results, which paraphrased into English are:

Audiometry Category 1

Everything is normal for the age of the attendee, i.e. we expect people to lose some hearing with age and Category 1 means their hearing is within the expected range for their years.

Audiometry Category 2

There are some losses. It is still with tolerances but is getting low and care is needed to ensure it does not deteriorate further. Think of it as being on the right side of the good/bad dividing line, but peeping through the letterbox looking towards the dark side!

Audiometry Category 3

Losses are beyond those which we would expect to see for the individual's age. Unless there is something in their history to explain it or it is a known, managed or previously diagnosed condition, or there is a temporary issue which may have played a part, we would recommended referral for further examination.

Audiometry Category 4

This one is only used in Year 2 testing and onwards. When comparing a current result against a previous one (within the last three years), if there has been a sudden reduction in hearing performance a Category 4 would be flagged indicating a rapid change. As with Cat 3, unless there is supporting history a referral would be made.

Category 4 doesn't necessarily mean their hearing is bad, just that it is deteriorating faster than expected when compared to a previous test.


There is another category which is used alongside this - a 'unilateral' loss. This is where one ear is good and one ear is significantly. Where this is new or there is nothing in the attendee's history to support it a referral is made. From experience, most referrals tend to be as a result of a unilateral loss and the good news for the employer is that unilateral losses are usually not a result of workplace noise. (Most noise affects both ears to the same extent, with some notable exceptions such as shooting, so one ear being worse than the other is probably not a result of loud machinery).


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