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AUDIOMETRIC HEARING TESTS

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A WORKSAFEBC REQUIREMENT

Did you know that employers in BC are required by WorkSafeBC to provide annual, industrial hearing tests to employees exposed to 85 decibels or greater over an 8 hour shift?
 

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY GUIDELINES

In Part 7 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation you will find all the requirements needed for protecting workers from excessive noise and the limits for noise exposure. The guidelines for the elements of noise control for your hearing conservation program will also be found in this section.

HEARING LOSS

Noise induced hearing loss is the most permanent, prevalent occupational disease and irreversible. Approximately 300,000 workers in BC are exposed to levels of noise loud enough to cause hearing loss.
 

MOBILE HEARING TESTS

With our modern fleet of 10 mobile units we bring the hearing conservation program right to your door. We have you covered with industrial hearing tests, measuring the level of noise employees are exposed to.

Industrial Hearing Test Questions and Answers

Who requires a hearing test?
Workers who are exposed to 85dBA or greater averaged over an 8 hour shift.
As an employee, what are my responsibilities?
Employee responsibilities are:
  • To wear proper fitting hearing protection in noise hazard areas and in accordance with instructions provided by the employer.
  • To show up for annual hearing tests when scheduled.
As an employer, what are my responsibilities?
Employer responsibilities are:
  • To provide annual hearing tests for workers exposed to 85dBA or greater averaged over an 8 hour shift.
  • To provide hearing protection when it is not practicable to reduce noise levels.
  • To maintain, in a manner acceptable to the board, a record of the hearing tests for each worker.
  • To review the noise control and hearing conservation program annually to ensure its effectiveness.
  • To post warning signs in any work area where noise levels exceed 85dBA averaged over an 8 hour shift and 140dBC at peak sound levels.
  • To ensure hearing tests are administered by persons authorized by the board.
  • To provide instructions on hearing protection devices and how to use them. (Taken from WorkSafeBC regulation 7.2 to 7.9)
How do I know if the noise level I am exposed to is too loud?
There are two ways to determine this:
  • Have an occupational noise survey completed.
  • Rule of thumb is if you have to raise your voice to be understood by someone at arms length away, then it is too loud
Why do we have annual hearing tests?
WorkSafeBC requires annual hearing testing to be completed on employees who are exposed to 85 decibels or greater over an 8 hour shift. The hearing tests are used to monitor any changes in an employee’s hearing due to the level of industrial noise they are exposed to. At the time of the testing each employee is also educated on the importance of wearing properly fitted hearing protection. Noise is the most common health hazard in industry.
Who pays for the test?
The employer is responsible for providing and maintaining hearing tests. Exceptions to this are companies classified as construction by WorkSafeBC.

Explanation of Hearing Tests Categories

Baseline Tests - First Time Hearing Test
A ABNORMAL – In this category the test showed some hearing loss in the lower tones. At 500, 1000 and 2000 Hz the individual was hearing the tones at a minimum of 30 decibels in either ear. We are not qualified to say what may have caused the hearing loss, as hearing loss in the low tones is not generally noise related. At the time of counselling we would give the employee a copy of their test results and recommend they see their general doctor. Also, we stress the importance of proper fitting hearing protection on and off the job.
 
EW EARLY WARNING – In this category the test showed some hearing loss in the higher tones. There was a minimum of a 15 decibel notch with the worst point at 3000, 4000 or 6000 Hz in either ear. Often the hearing test will pick out the first sign of noise-induced hearing loss even though the individual may not have noticed any problems yet. At the time of counselling we would stress how important it is to wear proper fitting hearing protection on and off the job.
N NORMAL – In this category the test showed good hearing in all tones. At the time of counselling we would stress how important it is to wear proper fitting hearing protection on and off the job.
Periodic Tests - Annual Re-tests
AC ABNORMAL CHANGE – In this category the test showed hearing that has gotten worse rapidly. The individual had two adjacent frequencies between 500 and 4000 Hz drop at least 15 decibels in either ear. The large amount of change is not due to noise exposure; some other medical condition is present at the time of the test. We are not qualified to determine what this condition may be. At the time of counselling the employee we would give them the test results of this year and previous year and recommend they see their general doctor. Also we stress the importance of proper fitting hearing protection on and off the job.
 
EWC EARLY WARNING CHANGE – In this category the test showed there has been hearing loss in the higher tones due to noise exposure. The individual had a drop of 15 or more decibels at either 3000 or 4000 Hz in either ear. The high tones are the tones sensitive to noise exposure and this kind of change usually indicates that the employee been exposed to too much noise since the last test. This exposure may happen because their hearing protection is not blocking the noise effectively because it does not fit or is in poor condition. Or the employee may not be wearing their hearing protection all the time or not at all. Again, we stress the importance of proper fitting hearing protection on and off the job.
NC NORMAL CHANGE – In this category the test showed no significant change from the previous hearing test. At the time of counselling we would stress how important it is to wear proper fitting hearing protection on and off the job.
C:\Users\521mpaterson\OneDrive - Sonova\Website\Industrial\PDFs\Explanation_of_Hearing_Test_Categories-2018.png Hearing Test Result Categories Explained

Employer Annual Hearing Test Report - Accessible Through IAS

March 2021, WorkSafeBC launched a Hearing Test Submission program which replaced the Industrial Audiometric System

Employers can now access all hearing test results by following the steps below.
  • Go to WorkSafeBC's website
  • Click 'Login' then 'Create an account' (using account # and payroll ID #)
  • Click 'Sign up for online services'
  • On Welcome page go to 'Health & Safety' tab for reports

If you already have an account and have been using the IAS report, please go to your 'Account Settings' and choose 'User Permissions'.
  • Click all the boxes *one is for HTS
  • Under your Health & Safety, where you would access the IAS report, you will see the option for the HTS report

Once you have created/updated your account, you will be able to select the online services you would like to use.

If you have difficulty accessing this service, you can contact WorkSafeBC’s Website Technical Support (Monday to Friday, 7am-5pm PST):

Phone: 604.276.3135
Toll free: 1.888.855.2477

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