Workplace Hearing Surveillance

What is workplace hearing surveillance?

“Health surveillance is putting in place systematic, regular and appropriate procedures to detect early signs of work related ill health and then acting upon the results. The aim is to identify and protect workers at increased risk and to check the long term effectiveness of measures to control risks to health. Employers are obliged to ensure that appropriate health surveillance is made available to employees for whom a risk assessment reveals a risk to their health.” HSA 2007

Hearing surveillance is health surveillance that focuses on hearing only. Exposure to loud noise at work can cause a deterioration in hearing over time: Noise Induced Hearing Loss NIHL. The purpose of a hearing surveillance program is to detect early signs of NIHL to allow intervention before significant hearing loss occurs. The program also identified individuals at risk of hearing loss and is a measure of the effective of noise control measures.

Hearing surveillance forms part of the company's overall noise control program with the aim of reducing exposure to loud noise using engineering, administrative, educational and use of HPE. If noise controls are effective this will be reflected in the outcome of the hearing surveillance program and will provide reassurance of a safe place of work.

A Workplace Hearing Surveillance Program involves periodically and systematically assessing the hearing of all employees who may be exposed to noise. The assessment includes a questionnaire looking for symptoms of NIHL and other hearing issues, a clinical examination of the ear canal and an audiogram. Results are analysed for each employee and for work areas. Repeated testing over time will show patterns of concern for individual employees and specific work areas, THis allows appropriate individual and group intervention to protect hearing.

Medwise Mobile Medical onsite hearing surveillance:

The Medwise Mobile Medical unit will visit your worksite and our trained staff will administer the questionnaire, conduct the examination and perform the audiometry according to a schedule. We use a calibrated soundproof audiobooth to ISO6189 standard. Calibrated noise signals of variable intensity and frequency are fed to each ear and the response recorded to determine the individual hearing levels. The audiogram is categorised according to the HSA's categorisation of hearing. The result is discussed with the employee and a copy of the audiogram made available.

Employees with significant hearing issues (either work related or otherwise) will be followed up at a later day with one of our occupational health physicians. The OHP will assess the employee further and discuss the result of the hearing surveillance, liaise with the treating doctor and compare with previous test results. 

The OHP will also advise if work restrictions are necessary to protect the employees hearing or if the employee requires additional training or increased surveillance. THe employee will be referred to their own doctor for treatment of non work related issues. The OHP will make recommendations for further follow up.

Finally, at the end of the surveillance program, The Medwise team will review the overall results looking for trends and patterns that may identify work areas of concern and issue a summary report to the employer.

Employee consent, confidentiality and data protection issues:

Under Health and safety legislation, employees are obliged to cooperate with measures to protect their health and that of their colleagues. Employees written consent to engage in the hearing surveillance program is still required before proceeding with any testing.

At all stages of the workplace hearing surveillance program, the employee will be informed of any medical concerns and potential work related health issues.

The employee's medical details are confidential and will not be disclosed to the employer or any other third party without the employees written agreement. Medical information is highly sensitive personal data and the requirements of GDPR apply.

Medwise operates an open access policy in line with good occupational health practice. We make all documentation and records available to employees and their doctors.

MedWise occupational health physicians provide expert advice to HR, Health and Safety and Management.
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Naas Clinic

Unit 32, Naas Town Centre,
Dublin Road, Naas,
Co. Kildare
W91 R230
Swords Clinic

First Floor, Chamber Building
North Street, Swords
Co. Dublin
K67 A3H7