As the need for audiometric testing steadily grows, many businesses are looking to find more information about this interesting topic. One of the questions on the top of their minds is, “what is the regulatory standard for hearing testing in the trades?” As long-time proponents of hearing health and testing, we couldn’t be happier to provide information on this, which we do below.


Provincial Legislation

Alberta

Within Alberta, all safety legislation falls under the purview of Occupational Health and Safety. Three documents offer information about this legislation and audiometric testing, namely the OHS Act, Regulation and Code. For specific information about noise exposure, refer to Part 16 of the Code. 

British Columbia

In British Columbia, five documents are essential to the understanding of audiometric testing and safety at the workplace. These documents are: 

For specific information about noise exposure, refer to the OHS Guidelines, Division 1 -Noise Exposure.

Saskatchewan

In Saskatchewan, health and safety standards operate under The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013, together with The Workers’ Compensation General Regulations, 1985 and The Workers’ Compensation Miscellaneous Regulations. For links to downloadable versions of these resources, consult this page on their website. Information specifically related to audiometric testing can be found in POL 11/ 2012 of the policy and procedure manual. 

audiometric-testing

Related, Relevant Standards

Although government legislation is often the first place to look for information regarding safety information, it is far from the only location. Indeed, many regulations refer to additional standards and documents that further describe and explain the intention of certain standards. You can see a list of these documents related specifically to audiometric testing down below. 

ANSI Standards

  • S1.25-1991 (R2002), Specification for Personal Noise Dosimeters 
  • S1.4-1983 (R2006), Specification for Sound Level Meters
  • S1.43-1997 (R2002), Specifications for Integrating-Averaging Sound Level Meters
  • S3.6-2004, Specification for Audiometers 

CSA Standards

  • Z94.2-14, Hearing Protection Devices — Performance, Selection, Care, and Use
  • Z107.56-06, Procedures for the Measurement of Occupational Noise Exposure
  • CAN/CSA-Z321-96 (R2006), Signs and Symbols for the Workplace

IEC Standards

  • 61672-1 (2002), Electroacoustics – Sound Level Meters – Part 1: Specifications 
  • 61672-2 (2003), Electroacoustics – Sound Level Meters – Part 2: Pattern evaluation tests 


Talk to the Audiometric Testing Experts Today

Still want to know more about audiometric testing? We would be more than happy to answer all your questions and concerns, so contact us today!


Rocky Mountain Mobile Hearing Testing is your locally owned and operated Calgary business. We are committed to providing mobile hearing testing services and other safety tests, to numerous industries and companies in Western Canada. Our services are part of the WorkSafeBC Provider Network, while our sound booths are approved by the CSA. We offer audiometry testing, mask fit testing, custom earplugs, noise measurements, help with implementing a hearing conservation program, and spirometry testing. If you want to improve your workplace, leave it in the hands of our team. Contact us today on (403) 399-4775.    

There are many good and responsible reasons for an employer to provide audiometry testing for their workers. One of the best reasons is the legislative requirement set out by Alberta Occupational Health & Safety (OHS). Still, there are also moral and even cost-saving reasons to engage with this valuable service.


However, we still occasionally field questions about why audiometry testing is important and ways to avoid doing it. As a result, we put together a shortlist of the hidden costs of audiometry testing.

4 Results of Ignoring Audiometry Testing

audiometry-testing

Human Impact

Perhaps one of the most obvious hidden costs of employers shirking their audiometry testing is the human impact. Noise exposure is a cumulative effect, which means that the longer an individual works in an area with detrimental noise levels, the more their hearing will suffer. As a result, long term employees may suffer hearing loss prematurely. 


Although this does show a lack of responsibility on the employer’s part, it can also lead to financial penalties if negligence can be proved. Did you know that offences related to safety violations are the only offences in Canada where offenders are guilty until they prove their innocence?


Legislative Fines

One of the biggest hidden costs of audiometry testing is the potential for heavy administrative fines from OH&S. Although there is a relatively small precedent for awarding large fines, employers need to remember what they may be on the hook for. Indeed, for a first-time offence, the fine is up to $500,000! With potential increases to the fine amount of up to $30,000 per day for continuing the offence, these fines carry a hefty burden.


Cumulative Problems

There are also cumulative costs to consider when employers ignore the importance of audiometric tests. In this way, starting late can lead to significant grandfather costs. A good example would be a compressor room built without considering potential noise exposure. Implementing noise reduction materials or controls at a later date may cause significant downtime for staff and operations.


Larger Startup Costs

In a similar vein to the cumulative problems that affect worksites where noise exposure is not reduced, larger startup costs also play a role. Again, we can use our earlier example of a compressor room that needs modification. If the sound levels cannot be reduced around the worksite, it might be necessary to replace the compressor unit with a quieter version. Alternatively, it might be necessary to move the worksite away from the compressor to reduce workers’ exposure. Considering that these only refer to engineered controls, and not the administrative and PPE requirements, it is easy to imagine how these changes could quickly get out of hand.


To learn more about employer responsibilities in Alberta, consider the OH&S Safety Code. This resource provides information and guidance about all employer responsibilities to their worksite, employees, contractors and themselves. For fines, penalties and legal information, the OH&S Safety Act is the perfect resource.


Rocky Mountain Mobile Hearing Testing is your locally owned and operated Calgary business. We are committed to providing mobile hearing testing services and other safety tests, to numerous industries and companies in Western Canada. Our services are part of the WorkSafeBC Provider Network, while our sound booths are approved by the CSA. We offer audiometry testing, mask fit testing, custom earplugs, noise measurements, help with implementing a hearing conservation program, and spirometry testing. If you want to improve your workplace, leave it in the hands of our team. Contact us today on (403) 399-4775.    

Audiometry testing is required in Alberta when workers will be exposed to detrimental levels of noise. This goes hand-in-hand with providing adequate and appropriate hearing protection. For an employer to determine whether or not they require hearing protection and audiometric testing, they are required to complete a site survey.


This process involves going to each area that has the potential for high levels of noise and testing the decibel level with calibrated and working equipment. It must also be performed by certified technicians who can interpret the results and prepare a report based on the testing performed. But, once this step is completed, how do they determine appropriate hearing protection?



How Did We End Up with Audiometry Testing?


What is an Occupational Exposure Limit?

An occupational exposure limit (OEL) is a limit set by the Alberta or Federal government to determine the acceptable level of exposure for a worker in a typical shift. These OEL’s exist for all sorts of hazardous materials, including chemicals, airborne contaminants, and noise. During the site testing, described above, the ultimate result is a report stating the amount of exposure, measured in decibels, a worker will receive when working in a noisy area. 

Set of molded red ear plugs with a cord

It is then an employer’s responsibility to select and implement hearing protection that lowers their exposure below the OEL. Employer’s typically complete this task by speaking with their safety equipment providers, but how do the providers know how much the noise is reduced?


What is a Noise Reduction Rating?

A noise reduction rating (NRR) is the measure of hearing protection an individual item will offer. It can be a little strange to measure, but essentially, if you halve the NRR you will have the number of decibels it reduces from the total. For example, earplugs typically have an NRR of 30-40 which means the decibels are reduced by 15-20. 


Proper safety equipment and policies must be put in place to reduce the total amount of decibels a worker is subjected to in an 8-hour shift. 


As an example of this, industrial sandblasting equipment typically operates between 100-120 decibels. A sandblaster who will be exposed to this level of noise will be required to wear well-fitted, disposable earplugs, reducing their exposure to roughly 80-100 decibels. As the OEL for noise in Alberta sits at 88 decibels, this is almost sufficient. But then, they must wear insulated blasting hoods to protect their heads and lungs from the sandblasting dust, which carry their own NRR of 30-40. This further reduces their exposure to 60-80 decibels, and they are now no longer exposed to the detrimental effects of noise. 


Audiometry Testing Ensures Protective Equipment Works

So now that we know how employer’s responsibilities to their workers are determined, why do we need audiometric testing? We need it because it establishes a baseline, and tests workers hearing year over year to ensure their hearing does not worsen, which would be a sign their hearing protection is not adequate.


Rocky Mountain Mobile Hearing Testing is your locally owned and operated Calgary business. We are committed to providing mobile hearing testing services and other safety tests, to numerous industries and companies in Western Canada. Our services are part of the WorkSafeBC Provider Network, while our sound booths are approved by the CSA. We offer audiometry testing, mask fit testing, custom earplugs, noise measurements, help with implementing a hearing conservation program, and spirometry testing. If you want to improve your workplace, leave it in the hands of our team. Contact us today on (403) 399-4775.    

Mobile hearing testing is a great way for employers to ensure they comply with occupational health and safety legislation. It allows them to test their employees without having to send them off-site, or spend their personal time on business affairs. It is also important to remember that mobile hearing testing is only required if there are detrimental levels of sound present at the workplace. However, the question remains: how often should you receive mobile hearing testing?


Legislatively, mobile hearing testing is only required annually. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, when hearing testing is done annually, it allows new employees to establish a base-line average for their hearing. Secondly, it allows returning employees to compare the results of their hearing test year-over-year, so that they can see if there are any differences or degradations since their last appointment.


mobile-hearing-testing


However, sometimes annual mobile hearing tests are insufficient. Circumstances can arise that would require mobile hearing testing to occur at a frequency of every six months. These would include new processes or machinery that increases workers’ potential exposure to high levels of noise. As well, if there was a workplace incident or an employee had an incident where they were exposed to high levels of noise exceeding the occupational exposure limit (OEL) there could be sufficient cause to increase their hearing testing, to see if a change has occurred.


Mobile Hearing Testing Helps Keep Your Employees Protected

In closing, annual hearing testing is an important requirement for employers who have high volumes of sound present at their workplace. Industrial and commercial industries are often the employers required to do this testing, but if you are unsure if mobile hearing testing is required in your workplace, it is important to do a test of the audio levels in your workplace. This will remove the guesswork, and make it easy to know whether you should consult certified and mobile audiometric testing professionals.


Rocky Mountain Mobile Hearing Testing is your locally owned and operated Calgary business. We are committed to providing mobile hearing testing services and other safety tests, to numerous industries and companies in Western Canada. Our services are part of the WorkSafeBC Provider Network, while our sound booths are approved by the CSA. We offer audiometry testing, mask fit testing, custom earplugs, noise measurements, help with implementing a hearing conservation program, and spirometry testing. If you want to improve your workplace, leave it in the hands of our team. Contact us today on (403) 399-4775.