The importance of an individual’s ability to hear cannot be overstated. Many workers depend on their hearing to keep them safe on the job. This doesn’t mean that people aren’t exposed to excessive noise levels. It does mean that it’s critical for workers to protect their hearing and for employers to provide audiometric testing on a regular basis.
What Is Audiometry?
Audiometry is the scientific measurement of the sensitivity and range of a person’s hearing. Accordingly, an audiometry exam tests a person’s ability to hear sounds. These sounds are varied with regard to their intensity, or loudness, as well as to their tone. Sound intensity is measured in decibels while tone is measured in Hertz.
How an Audiometry Test Is Performed
Usually, the person undergoing the audiometry test is placed in a booth and asked to put on earphones. These are attached to an audiometer. Various tones are delivered to each ear, and the test subject is asked to raise a hand or otherwise indicate when a sound is heard. A technician tracks the responses to identify if and in what ranges hearing loss is occurring.
When Is an Audiometry Test Required?
A doctor may order an audiometry test when a patient has suffered acoustic trauma or has had chronic ear infections. Frequently, these tests are required as part of OSHA guidelines for safer workplaces. Workers who are exposed to noise at or above a level of 85 db on a regular basis must be tested within six months of their first exposure to the noise to establish a baseline. Tests are typically performed on an annual basis to determine whether or not hearing loss is occurring.
Proactive employers may also want to institute audiometric testing for workers who are exposed to lower levels of noise to better protect employees.