Audiometric Testing

Occupational Health Testing

By Shift OHS Inc. on July 10, 2023


What is an audiometric test?

An audiometric test determines a person’s hearing threshold levels. It is a screening tool that can identify workers who are losing hearing so that steps can be taken to prevent additional hearing loss. 

Noise is one of the most common of all workplace hazards and, if not controlled, causes hearing loss in workers. The undesirable effects of noise include auditory effects (effects on the ear) and extra auditory effects (effects on other parts of the body). Hearing loss is the most well-known adverse effect of noise and can be measured by audiometry. Extra-auditory effects are more difficult to measure. Noise-induced hearing loss does not have an immediate, dramatic effect, and as a result,  people do not consider the cause/effect relationship between noise and hearing loss as serious.  Noise-induced hearing loss has no visible effects on the ear; there is no bleeding and most often no pain. Workers do not subjectively sense the early effects of noise. Noise-induced hearing loss is so gradual that it is not until the speech frequencies are affected that workers notice a hearing problem. 

Like auditory effects, the extra-auditory effects of noise are insidious. These effects may be harmful and often go unnoticed. Noise can act in the same way as other stressors on the body and can influence the entire physiological system. Noise influences the cardiovascular system in particular and can cause changes such as increased blood pressure, changes in heart rate, hormone levels, and blood cholesterol. The stress of noise exposure may also cause physical fatigue, annoyance, or irritability in some workers and may affect job performance. 

Section 3(1) of the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act states that “every employer shall ensure, as far as it is reasonably practicable for the employer to do so, the health and safety and welfare of workers engaged in the work of that employer”. According to Part 16 of the Alberta  Occupational Health and Safety Code, to ensure the audiometric safety of its employees, an employer  must provide the following:

1. Noise Exposure Assessment – determines employee exposure to noise above the occupational  exposure limit (OEL)

2. Noise Management Program

  • Employee education
  • Noise assessment procedures
  • Signage
  • Methods of noise control

3. PPE – hearing protection & hearing protection fit testing

4. Audiometric Testing

  • Hearing protection (selection, use,  and maintenance)
  • Audiometric testing 
  • Annual program review 
  • Initial baseline test ASAP, but no later than 6 months after the worker is employed or  within 6 months of noise exposure (Pre-Employment / Baseline test)
  • 1 year after the initial / baseline test (Periodic test)
  • At least every 2 years after that (Periodic Test / Health Surveillance)
  • Abnormal results must be forwarded to an Audiologist of Physician for review

Shift OHS’s audiometric testing includes the following:  

  • Qualified audiometric technicians and proper test environments Nationwide • Audiometric equipment, which meets CSA standards
  • Technician will complete an employee history and an internal/external examination of the  ear 
  • Test results explained to employee with instruction/educational information regarding  hearing protection 
  • Record of results (audiometric test card) provided to employee (in accordance with Part 16,  223(2)(e) of the Alberta OH&S Code) 
  • Abnormal results forwarded to a certified Audiologist / Physician for review • Follow up testing (retest) schedules available 
  • Complete reporting to employer 
  • Onsite audiometric testing is available
  • Record retention (in accordance with Part 16, 223(2)(f) of the Alberta OH&S Code)