Hazardous noise in workplaces has the capability to disrupt clear hearing and can make it difficult to hear sounds essential for working safely, such as instructions or warning signals. As an employer, you have a duty of care to exercise due diligence to ensure that your organisation complies with the current Workplace Health and Safety Act and Regulations.

At Sonic HealthPlus, we offer a variety of hearing tests, such as Occupational Noise Management and a standard Screening Audiometry. In this article, we will breakdown the differences between the tests to better help you understand what service your workers must undertake to be safe and fit at your workplace.

What is Occupational Noise Management?

Occupational Noise Management testing must comply with AS/NZS 1269.4:2014 Occupational Noise Management criteria. Workplaces that have noise levels over 85 decibels over an 8-hour period are legally required to ensure that their employees undergo this testing. There are two different types of Occupational Noise Management Audiometry tests – Reference and Monitoring. Reference tests are the initial audiometry screening that workers undergo at the start of their employment. Monitoring tests are repeated at least every two years to check for hearing loss and mitigate hazardous noise in the workplace.

The operators and doctors that perform Occupational Noise Management Audiometry testing undergo various trainings to attain certification. After testing is completed in clinic, the results are then sent to a specialist occupational review team to determine the results prior to release to the company. The review team determine how often the worker will require to undergo Monitoring Occupational Noise Audiometry tests. The results of Occupational Noise Management Audiometry testing will provide legally defensible results that measure changes to hearing relevant to noise exposure and assist to limit liability for future hearing loss claims as well as monitor the impact of noise exposure on a long-term basis.

What is a Screening Audiometry?

A screening Audiometry, also known as Pure Tone Audiometry, is our standard hearing test that we offer at Sonic HealthPlus. It can be used to indicate whether the worker has adequate hearing for their role. This testing is provided based on the employer’s request and their workplace’s acceptability criteria. There is no legislative requirement for this testing to be done as it is up to the workplace to decide if this is something that their company requires.

Key Differences

Both Occupational Noise Management Audiometry testing and Screening Audiometry testing require certified operators to perform the testing. However, Occupational Noise Management requires further training and certification as well as sending onto a specialised Occupational Noise doctor to then review the results prior to release to the company. Unlike an Occupational Noise Audiometry test, a Screening Audiometry test is not legally defensible in court as a means to accurately represent a loss of hearing in a worker over time.

Dr David Jones
MSc, MB ChB, MFOM (RCP)(UK), Fellow AFOEM (RACP)Regional Medical Officer

Dr David Jones is an experienced occupational physician who has been in specialist practice for over 25 years. He is currently an Occupational and Environmental Physician with Sonic HealthPlus, providing a range of consulting services for corporate and government clients.

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