As we step into 2024, workplaces are set to experience a transformative shift in hearing health regulations. If you work in an industry where you’re exposed to hazardous noise, you’ll need to understand these new changes to The Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulation 2017, under Clause 58 that start on 1 January 2024.
At a glance:
To prevent hearing loss in the workplace, employers must ensure that workers frequently using hearing protection in environments exceeding the exposure standard undergo hearing tests. These tests, known as audiometric tests, consist of a baseline test within three months of employment commencement and follow-up tests at least every two years thereafter. The exposure standard, as per the WHS Regulation 2017 (Clause 56), sets noise limits at an LAeq, 8h of 85dB(A), with a peak noise level at 140dB(C).
Compliance: The regulation makes it mandatory for employers to provide audiometric testing.
Penalties: Failure to comply can result in penalties of up to 70 penalty units for individuals and 345 penalty units for corporations.
Audiometric testing in detail:
Audiometric testing is a critical component of ensuring auditory health in high-noise environments. This involves the testing and measurement of the hearing threshold levels of each ear of a person by a pure tone air conduction threshold test. It is required if noise levels exceed the defined exposure standard, and if personal protective equipment (PPE) is utilized, employers must provide audiometric testing. Employers are also obligated to consult with workers and their health and safety representatives, providing test results with a written explanation of their implications.
How a noise assessment can help:
Employers can enhance their hearing protection measures by conducting comprehensive noise assessments. These assessments serve multiple purposes, including;
- Identifies the workers that have the most risk of hearing loss
- Helps check the effectiveness of current measures of sound control.
- Determines which noise sources and processes are causing the risk.
- Identify potential types of noise control procedures that would be implemented.
If your workplace exposes workers or others to hazardous noise levels, conducting a risk assessment is crucial. Pre and post employment assessments are available through Recovery Partners. This assessment includes the use of a sound meter which helps in managing and closing exposure gaps effectively.
Our safety team offers training sessions nationwide to guide you through this complex process, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the regulations.
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/
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