Although anyone can be subject to noise exposure, people who regularly work in high noise environments are generally at a greater risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss. This is why there is legislation in place to protect and compensate WA employees against noise-related hearing problems. In high-risk workplaces, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure employees are adequately protected against noise pollution. From implementing noise control measures to organising audiometric testing with a qualified audiologist, here are some of the steps employers should take to reduce the risk of hearing loss in the workplace.
Identify noise hazards
Before implementing procedures to reduce noise exposure in the workplace, employers will need to identify the main sources of noise by carrying out regular workplace assessments. This could be as simple as walking through the workplace to identify noisy areas and processes. Information regarding noise emissions from specific machines is often provided by manufacturers, and can give employers a greater indication of any high-risk equipment. This noise assessment should be carried out and reviewed on a regular basis to better monitor the risk of noise exposure.
Minimise noise hazards
Once the main sources of noise have been identified, employers will need to implement appropriate noise control measures to minimise noise hazards. In the best-case scenario, noise sources will be eliminated completely. If this isn’t possible, employers will need to implement engineering controls to reduce noise hazards. This may include substituting loud machinery (such as large generators) with quieter alternatives, ensuring equipment is well-maintained and fully functional, minimising noise levels at the source, or installing noise barriers between employees and noisy equipment.
Administrative noise control methods
It’s not just the physical location of equipment that can impact and minimise an employee’s risk of developing hearing loss. Employers can also implement administrative noise control strategies to reduce the risk and frequency of noise exposure. This may include organising rosters to reduce the number of people exposed to noise, giving employees regular breaks from high-risk areas, and limiting the amount of time during which employees are exposed to noise.
Training and education
As part of their noise control program, employers will need to inform employees of noise control measures and educate them on relevant safe work practices. This includes informing employees of the risk of noise exposure and the measures in place to reduce it. Workers will also need to be educated on the correct use of hearing protection equipment.
Provide adequate hearing protection
When noise exposure risks can’t be eliminated by noise control methods, employees will need to be provided with personal hearing protectors such as earplugs and earmuffs. At The Art of Hearing audiology clinics, we offer a range of custom earplugs and hearing protection solutions for people who are regularly exposed to high-noise environments. Our custom hearing protectors are designed to offer maximum protection against noise exposure whilst providing a comfortable solution to your hearing protection needs.
Regardless of whether employees are provided with hearing protection, employers in prescribed workplaces – that is, workplaces in which workers are exposed to 90 decibels or more during an eight-hour period – are obliged to organise and pay for regular audiometric testing for their employees. In addition to a baseline hearing test at the start of employment, employers are responsible for organising further WorkCover WA hearing tests to determine any subsequent hearing loss throughout the course of employment. Should a significant loss of hearing be detected, employees may be entitled to WorkCover WA compensation.
Audiometric testing and hearing solutions with your Perth audioligists
At The Art of Hearing, we are committed to providing high quality hearing solutions that meet our clients’ individual needs. Whether you require a hearing test or custom hearing protection, our experienced audiologists can help you find the best solution for your long-term hearing health. To organise a hearing test with our Perth audiologists, or to find out more about out custom hearing solutions, book a consultation at any of our five hearing clinics in Perth.