Legislation regarding Hearing Tests
Posted on January 6th, 2015
Businesses have a duty of care to their workers and are required to manage risks to health and safety, including 'Managing Risk of Hearing Loss from Noise' contained in the 'Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011'
This duty means that employers (actually ‘persons conducting a business or undertaking’) must identify the risks, and implement controls according to the hierachy of control measures when it is not possible to eliminate the risks.
The duty does not end there. These controls must be maintained and monitored to ensure the controls are effective. This follows the standard process for risk management.
For managing the risk of hearing loss, this monitoring often includes conducting audiometric testing on workers exposed to significant noise.
In 2014, the QLD Work Health and Safety Regulation was revised to remove mandatory hearing tests. Although they are not required, audiometric testing is still an important part of managing the risk of hearing loss. A code of practice is available: Managing noise and preventing hearing loss at work
The code recommends that the worker should first be tested within three months of commencing the work in order to provide a reference baseline for their hearing. Then regular follow-up audiometric tests should be conducted at least every two years, or more frequently if the noise hazard is louder, in order to check for any changes to the worker’s hearing.
If hearing changes are detected, then a thorough investigation is needed to determine the cause of the changes and to determine whether existing control measures are effective in protecting against hearing loss.
If an employer decides against audiometric testing then they will need to demonstrate that the assessed risk did not warrant it. Have a look at the code of practice to better understand the risks.