Audiometric Testing Compliance Requirements

Reviewed by Dr. Mashood Khan, Head of Clinical Governance

Workplace health surveillance offers numerous advantages It allows early detection of work-related illnesses, enabling prompt intervention and treatment which in turn helps identify, understand, and control occupational hazards, and ensures a safe working environment.  Monitoring employees’ health promotes preventive measures, reducing absenteeism and improving productivity. Health surveillance programs can also assess the effectiveness of health and safety measures, leading to continuous improvement. Overall, workplace health surveillance safeguards employees’ wellbeing, fosters a culture of safety, and contributes to the overall success and sustainability of organisations.

In New Zealand and Australia, AS/NZS 1269.4:2014 specifies procedures and requirements for air conduction pure tone audiometry (without masking) that are applicable to individuals whose hearing sensitivity might be adversely affected by occupational noise exposure and/or ototoxic agents. This is because employees across several occupations including mining, manufacturing, construction, and aviation are at an increased risk of suffering from noise-induced hearing loss. Here, we explain the compliance requirements and provide guidance for employers to ensure they are meeting their legal obligations.

What is audiometric testing (hearing testing)?

Workplace hearing testing is a specialised service that measures the hearing threshold of a person and helps to identify noise-induced hearing loss in employees. These hearing assessments are a screening tool used to evaluate an employee’s hearing abilities by measuring the sensitivity of a person’s hearing at various frequencies and intensities. It involves conducting specified hearing tests in a controlled environment.

The results of the testing can be used to establish a baseline of hearing ability for each employee, and future audiometric testing will monitor any changes to this baseline over time. This makes audiometric testing a useful preventative measure for keeping any signs of hearing damage or loss in check.

Why is hearing testing important in the workplace?

Hazardous noise can destroy the ability to hear clearly, which impairs communication and can be destructive to livelihood. The inability to hear clearly can also make it difficult to hear the sounds necessary for working safely, such as instructions or warning signals, increasing the risk of further injury (Safe Work Australia). The extent to which noise is hazardous not only depends on how loud it is (as measured by decibels) but on the duration of the exposure and its persistence at low levels.

All these factors make hearing testing vital in ensuring levels of noise are not chronically interfering with the concentration, communication, and wellbeing of employees. It also helps direct attention to potential noise stress in employees and helps employers take further measures to control risks by:

  • Identifying which workers are most at risk of exposure and hearing damage
  • Determining what sources and processes are causing that risk
  • Identifying if and what kind of control measures should be adjusted or implemented
  • Checking the effectiveness of existing control measures.

What are the legal requirements around workplace hearing testing?

In New Zealand, the legal requirements for workplace hearing testing are primarily governed by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) and its associated regulations, particularly the Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016. This move recognises the crucial nature of hearing monitoring and reducing the number of noise-induced hearing loss claims.

The specific requirements for workplace hearing testing may vary depending on the nature of the work, level of noise exposure, and other factors.  However, the overarching HSWA regulations place a duty on persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) to provide hearing testing for employees who are frequently required to use personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect them from the risk of hearing loss associated with noise that exceeds the exposure standard.

The regulations do not specify a specific frequency for hearing tests. However, it is generally recommended that baseline tests be conducted within six months of an employee’s first exposure to excessive noise and repeated at regular intervals thereafter.

What are the most common challenges in complying with hearing testing?

Meeting hearing testing compliance requirements can pose challenges for some employers. Some common hurdles include:

  • A lack of awareness around the potential risks associated with noise exposure, or even the legal obligations around hearing testing
  • Resource constraints in terms of conducting the hearing assessment, which requires specialised equipment, trained personnel and appropriate facilities
  • Trouble obtaining employees’ participation and cooperation in the testing process, especially when they perceive it as time-consuming or unnecessary.

Bodycare and its national clinical network are here to help workplaces overcome any knowledge-based, logistical, scheduling or resource-related obstacles that hearing testing might present. We do this by educating people on the importance of hearing testing, providing advice on how to engage employees in the testing process and performing the tests in an efficient and cost-effective manner. On average, workplace hearing tests take about 20 minutes per employee to complete.

How often should hearing testing take place to meet compliance requirements?

The level of noise exposure in your workplace and any localised regulations will dictate the frequency of hearing tests for employees. Routine hearing checks can help detect early symptoms of over-exposure to hazardous noise. Effective follow-up for employees with hearing shifts can help prevent permanent noise-induced hearing loss.

Australian Standard AS/NZS 1269.4:2014 requires that a “prescribed workplace” must provide a hearing test for employees within 3 months of commencing work (baseline test) and then at least every 2 years thereafter.

How can employers stay up to date on changing compliance requirements?

Legislation and compliance requirements can change over time, so it is important for employers to stay up to date by monitoring industry-specific regulations. Consulting the occupational health and safety professionals at Bodycare can help you take the guesswork out of understanding the current compliance requirements and any updates that may impact your industry.

Why choose Bodycare for workplace hearing testing?

Bodycare is the preferred choice for workplace audiometric testing because of our commitment to providing a comprehensive and high-quality service. Our health partners are experienced in conducting hearing tests and are trained in the latest testing methods and technologies. This expertise ensures our test results are accurate and dependable and promotes employee health and well-being.

If fifteen or more employees are assessed, employers may receive a comprehensive corporate report summarising the overall results and any trends or areas of concern.

Another reason to choose Bodycare is our robust clinical governance framework. We take quality control seriously and have a system of checks and balances that ensures our service delivery’s consistency and accuracy. This includes ongoing training and education for our staff, regular audits of our processes and procedures, and continuous monitoring of our service outcomes.

Make hearing testing an integral part of your workplace safety program by contacting Bodycare today.



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Occupational noise management – Part 4: Auditory assessment

Safe Work Australia – Noise

WorkSafe – Noise. The law