Noise Health Surveillance

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Implementing Health Surveillance for Hearing Protection

Effective health surveillance is crucial for protecting employees from hearing damage due to workplace noise. This guide outlines the procedures and responsibilities involved in monitoring and managing hearing health among workers.

Key Components of Health Surveillance

Health surveillance for hearing damage generally includes:

  • Regular hearing assessments under controlled conditions.
  • Communication of hearing test outcomes to employees.
  • Maintenance of health records.
  • Medical examinations for those detected with hearing issues.

Initiating Surveillance

Surveillance should ideally start before noise exposure begins, such as for new hires or those switching roles, to establish a baseline. It can also commence at any stage for already exposed employees.

Schedule and Professional Oversight

Follow a consistent schedule of checks, typically annually for the first two years and then every three years, adjusting based on risk levels and early signs of hearing damage.

Assessments must be conducted by trained professionals and overseen by an occupational health specialist, such as a qualified doctor or nurse.

Legal Requirements for Employers

Employers are mandated to provide regular health surveillance for employees regularly exposed above upper exposure action values or who are at risk due to pre-existing conditions or heightened sensitivity.

Goals of Health Surveillance

The primary aims include:

  • Detecting early signs of hearing damage.
  • Preventing further damage and assessing the effectiveness of existing noise control measures.

Employee Involvement and Education

Before implementing health surveillance, consult with trade union safety representatives, employee representatives, and directly with the employees. It’s vital that employees understand the purpose of these checks and actively cooperate.

Managing Health Surveillance

Larger companies may manage health surveillance with in-house occupational health services. Alternatively, external contractors recommended by trade associations or local business networks can be used.

Provider Qualifications and Responsibilities

Choose providers with the necessary training and experience who can advise on, set up, and maintain the health surveillance programme, and report on employees' fitness for work amidst noise exposure.

Using Surveillance Data

Utilise the outcomes of health surveillance to refine noise control strategies, ensure the use of hearing protection, and update risk assessments. Share insights with employee or safety representatives to enhance understanding and compliance.

Health surveillance is a critical component of workplace safety that helps protect employees from potential hearing damage. By adhering to these guidelines, employers can ensure compliance with regulations and foster a safer working environment.