Hearing Loss from Noise
The main reason companies provide OSHA audiometric testing is to measure whether the other elements of their OSHA-regulated hearing conservation program are preventing hearing loss in the employees that are exposed to hazardous noise, for example, engineering and administrative noise exposure controls, noise monitoring, hearing loss prevention training, and diligent hearing protection use. OSHA hearing testing is very important.
Often, when a person loses their hearing, this loss is gradual. In fact, it is so gradual that it may be hard to tell that there is a problem until there is already significant damage. Regular hearing testing informs the employee and employer of changes so that a temporary problem with hearing loss prevention does not result in permanent hearing loss.
In most cases, hearing testing is performed in an audiometric booth in a building or van, but a quiet room that meets background noise level standards is also possible. The hearing test machine, or audiometer, will deliver a series of sounds at different pitches and volumes. These sounds will play in one ear at a time. The person taking the test wears earphones and is instructed to listen for the softest sounds possible, responding by pressing a hand switch or a button on a screen.
The hearing test results are recorded so the examiner may compare the current results to the best hearing results recorded for that person, called their baseline, to determine whether a significant change in hearing has occurred since the earlier results. Significant changes in hearing alert the hearing conservation program team that some element of the program may not be effective and should be addressed immediately.
Measuring Hearing Ability
Hearing testing measures the softest volume tones a person can hear at least fifty percent of the time they are presented. This test of hearing sensitivity provides information about many things: how well an employee is able to hear the sounds most important in speech, whether their sensitivity has changed significantly over time, and if they require an appointment with an audiologist or physician.
Early Warning Signs of Hearing Loss
Other people complain that you do not hear them.
Difficulty hearing speech clearly in background noise, e.g., with home or restaurant kitchen noises, when your home appliances are running, or in an environment where multiple people are speaking at the same time.
Speech sounds muffled or too quiet.