It appears that WorkCover have provided exemptions to Audiometric testing in some circumstances, however NSW WorkCover do not make exemption completely clear to businesses as to the requirements and exemptions for audiometric testing. Audiometric testing means the testing and measurement of the hearing threshold levels of each ear of a person by means of pure tone air conduction threshold tests. Safe Environments provide onsite audiometric testing with mobile testing units.
What is the WHS Legislation for Audiometric Testing
Clause 58 of the NSW Workplace Health and Safety regulation requires that the employer to provide audiometric testing at least every two (2) years if hearing protection is used to protect the worker if the noise levels exceed the exposure standard. The audiometric testing is specified to be conducted:
- within 3 months of the worker commencing the work, and
- at least every 2 years
However on the NSW WorkCover website under the heading of “WHS Transitional Arrangements”, it states:
Recent exemptions to the WHS Regulation 2011
Audiometric testing of workers frequently required to use PPE to protect from noise over the exposure limit.
So the question remains as to when audiometric testing may actually be required. WorkCover prides their number to contact then in relation to audiometric testing which is 13 10 50, for more information about transitional arrangements.
The Master Builders Association Advice in regards to NSW WorkCover Exemptions on Audiometric Testing
Buying the right hearing protection is important to ensure that you are protecting yours hearing, but that you also can hear the environment around you and be aware of hazards such as approaching traffic or forklifts and the like.
In this instance, the ground maintenance crew currently ear either in-ear, over ear or custom fitted in-ear hearing protection.
The Master Builders Association provided an e-circular in issue 19 of 2013, dated 2 December 2013 outlines that audiometric testing would come into effect from 1 January 2014; however the MBA have recently provided another e-circular advising members that the WorkCover NSW have provided an exemption for 12 months. Apparently the audiometric testing requirements will then be in force from the 1 January 2015 under transitional arrangements.
It is reported that the transitional arrangements are due to concerns worth the costs and administrative systems required to run such testing. While these transitional requirements may apply in 2015, it is good practice under the Australian Standards 1269 to provide Audiometric testing. The benefit of early testing is detecting those people who may be at significant risk where a change in hearing thresholds may be observed. When there may be potential compensation claims, the pre-employment audiometric testing can assist to limit the extent of liability.
It must be reminded that there is no “cure” for Noise Induced Hearing loss resulting from workplace noise exposure. Once the nerve endings have been destroyed through constant loud noises, even a hearing aid won’t bring back your hearing. Once is gone; its gone!
Most people are shocked when they are told this, as the general feedback I get when I conduct the audiometric testing is
“Aww well, I’ll just get a hearing aid”.
This simply doesn’t work!
The ear needs to be protected throughout the working life and also during recreational activities.
Safe Environments will follow up as to the exact nature of the audiometric exemptions by NSW WorkCover to help provide further details to assist business owners in ensuring a Safe Environment.
Update 27 February 2014 – Advice from NSW WorkCover on Audiometric Testing Exemptions
Below is the gazetted NSW exemption on Audiometric testing obtained from WorkCover NSW. apparently there is debate as to whether the cost is too high. In many cases our experience I that audiometric testing may be in the order of $25 – $40 depending on where people may be located. Is this cost too high to actually know if controls are working?