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Hearing factsheet
Noise and Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Noise induced hearing loss is a major occupational disease. A Medical Research Council survey in 1997-98 gave a prevalence estimate of 509,000 people in Great Britain suffering from hearing difficulties as a result of exposure to noise at work. In 2007/08 21,000 individuals were suffering hearing problems which they believed to be work-related. However in the period 2007-2016 there were 1505 new cases of Noise Induced Hearing Loss, of which only 10 were female.

The Noise at Work Regulations 2005 along with The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require Health Surveillance in the form of hearing checks that measure the sensitivity of people’s hearing over a range of sound frequencies.

Employers need to provide health surveillance:

  • For all workers regularly exposed above 85dB.
    and
  • For susceptible individuals if requested exposed between 80-85dB.

Screening should occur as:

  • Baseline assessment at pre-employment or when moved to work in a “noisy” environment
  • Annually for 2 years
  • yearly thereafter unless there is cause for concern
  • At cessation of employment.

Testing involves:

  • The nurse/technician will go through the forms with you asking extra questions if needed
  • Look in your ears using a machine called an Auroscope, looking for wax, signs of infection, perforation, foreign bodies etc.
  • The individual then undertakes an audiometric screen, e.g. they wear a pair of headphones linked to a machine that sends random sounds to them; each time they hear a sound they press a button. This takes about 12 minutes
  • A computer then calculates a hearing category (based on current HSE standards1-4)
  • The nurse informs employee and employer (with employee consent) of results in writing.

Shea OH Ltd Hearing (Audiometric) Health Surveillance includes:

  • Hearing (Audiometric) test carried out at your work site
  • Confidential data management and reporting to employee and employer, with employee consent
  • Worker education at time of test
  • Permanently retained records (40 years)
  • Completed Health Surveillance report for each individual to be kept at your company to demonstrate to regulators that you are compliant with the law.