DIY Audiometry vs getting someone in

Non-Occupational Health people have two approaches, either do the audiometry in-house or get someone in to do it.

Doing the audiometry in-house has some advantages for you in that you can test people as and when needed, and if you have a lot of people to test it can work out cheaper than getting someone in to do it, but usually only when multiple years of audiometry are taken into account.

The main bit of kit you need is an audiometer and then you'll need somewhere to do it. A quiet room is OK but it must be VERY quiet. If you can sit in it and hear occasional telephones or people talking then it is not quiet enough - the tones of speech and telephones are exactly the ones you are trying to focus on in a hearing test and, more so than things like HGVs or other plant, they will have an impact on the results. If it's not quiet enough therefore you'll need a booth as well.

For an audiometer and booth combination, aim for something like £6k or so and you won't go far wrong.

You can then send a member of staff on a two day audiometry course and Bob's your uncle, you're ready to test. Or are you?

OK, we are biased - we do audiometry and the more people do in-house then less work we get, but we try to be completely honest about this. We do not recommend doing the tests in-house unless you have someone who is experienced specifically in screening audiometry or qualified in Occ Health. Companies selling audiometers, such as Castle, send out e-mail newsletters saying you can do it in-house with an audiometer and a bit of training, but then they would - they sell the audiometers and the training and the more people who do it in-house the more audiometers and training they sell. From our experience though, unless you are doing loads of tests and doing them regularly, it just doesn't work.

The problems we come across are two-fold: inappropriate placement of the audiometry equipment (usually where other people can be heard talking), or insufficient knowledge of the tester when looking at the audiometry results. To be clear, industrial screening is not diagnostic audiometry, but to do it properly the technician needs to be able to do more than simply say "this meets the HSE's Category 3 classification therefore I am referring you to your G.P." To be of value they need to understand wider health impacts on hearing, whether a particular type of hearing loss is potentially a risk with further noise exposure, etc.. Without that the company gets little value from the data, loads of people are referred completely unnecessarily, their G.P.'s tell them to go away as there is not a lot wrong with their hearing, and the whole process is discredited and wastes a lot of time. The two day training course offered around the UK is a start for someone who is going to do hearing testing for workplace screening but for our technicians, we wouldn't let them near an audiometer just on the basis of having done that without further more detailed training and experience behind them.

The other issue which crops up is time - if you have 300 audiometry tests to do, for HSMC as a professional hearing testing company that will take about five days assuming shifts are being worked, so one week and the job is done. In-house we have seen that commonly take many months.

So yes, non-Occupational Health people or non-specialists can do audiometry in-house and some of the audiometer sellers will push that so they can sell more units, but in our opinion it's not a great idea and can give a much lower level of benefit overall. Besides, we're really nice and you'll like having us on your site, honest!

Back to top

designed by hampton-smith