Health surveillance to protect employees from hearing damage in the workplace often entails the following:
Ideally, it is best practice to start the health surveillance before employees have the chance of being exposed to noise in the workplace – for example, for new starters or those changing jobs – to give a baseline of their hearing acuity. This means that entire records can be kept throughout their employment at your business, allowing for a better understanding of working conditions. Surveillance can, however, be introduced at any time for employees already exposed to noise. This would be followed by a regular series of checks, usually annually for the first 2 years of employment and then at 3-yearly intervals (although this may need to be more frequent if any problem with hearing is detected or where the risk of hearing damage is high).
Of course, the hearing checks need to be carried out by someone who has the appropriate training. The whole health surveillance programme needs to be under the control of an occupational health professional (for example a doctor or a nurse with appropriate training and experience). You, as the employer, have the responsibility for making sure the health surveillance is carried out properly at all times.
You must provide health surveillance (hearing checks) for all your employees who are likely to be regularly exposed above the upper exposure action values or are at risk for any reason, e.g. they already suffer from hearing loss or are particularly sensitive to damage.
The purpose of health surveillance is to:
Consult your trade union safety representative or employee representative and the employees concerned before introducing health surveillance. It is important that your employees understand that the aim of health surveillance is to protect their hearing during long-term employment and that cooperation is key to successful surveillance in the workplace.
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