Your questions answered: Do at-risk workers still need hearing tests if they relocate to noise-free environments?

By Portner Press on November 19th, 2019
  1. Work Health & Safety Act
  2. Workplace health & safety regulations

We complete hearing tests for at-risk workers every 2 years.

We have a staff member, however, who was once exposed to noise, but now works solely in an office environment and has done so for the past eight years, with no exposure to noise at all.

When should we stop conducting hearing tests in this type of scenario?

We are based in NSW.

Under the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (NSW), you are only required to conduct hearing tests every two years if you have a worker who is frequently required to use personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves from the risk of hearing loss associated with noise that exceeds the exposure standard for noise.

The exposure standard for noise is currently 85 decibels, which is a volume of noise greater than the noise created by kerbside heavy traffic.

The requirement to conduct hearing tests only applies to workers who are exposed to dangerous work-related noise during their hours of work.

Therefore it is unlikely that your worker, in an office, will be exposed to the dangerous volume of sound described in the Regulations.

Furthermore, it is unlikely that you will be required to conduct the hearing tests prescribed in the regulations as your worker is not required to frequently use PPE for protection from the risk of hearing loss.

SafeWork NSW has also published a code of practice titled Managing Noise and Preventing Hearing Loss at Work which provides additional guidance on noise related risks as well as the safety obligations owed by employers in the workplace. A copy is accessible at the following link: Managing Noise and Preventing Hearing Loss at Work.

For more information on noise safety management, please see also refer to chapter N2 Noise Safety Management in the Health & Safety Handbook on Portner Digital.

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