At each frequency, the threshold recorded for the ear is the audiometer’s lowest signal output level at which the individual responds. Noise exposure increases hearing thresholds, resulting in threshold shifts toward higher values (poorer hearing)
Audiometric Testing Benefits:
- Assists employers by defining a benchmark for hearing ability upon hire.
- Provides identification of hearing loss and promotes early intervention by comparing yearly test results.
- Provides a detailed explanation from an audiologist of abnormal test results to the worker and recommendations for follow-up actions.
- Assists with the evaluation of your Noise Management Program during the annual review process.
The INTENSITY of sound is measured in decibels (dB):
- A whisper is about 20 dB.
- Loud music (some concerts) is around 80 to 120 dB.
- A jet engine is about 140 to 180 dB.
This test establishes the employee’s “hearing threshold,” or the softest sounds that he or she can hear at each frequency. It should be performed as soon as possible (preferably within 60 days) after the employee’s first exposure to potentially hazardous noise.
Baseline audiograms must be provided within six months of an employee’s first exposure at or above an 8-hour TWA of 85 dB. An exception is the use of mobile test vans to obtain audiograms. In these instances, baseline audiograms must be completed within one year after an employee’s first exposure to workplace noise at or above a TWA of 85 dB.
Audiometric testing monitors an employee’s hearing over time. It also provides an opportunity for employers to educate employees about their hearing and the need to protect it. While some companies test only once (to establish a baseline, usually at time of hire), the real value of audiometric testing comes from testing on some periodic basis — so that results can be compared period over period and trends can be identified.