According to the Health and Safety Executive, health surveillance for hearing damage usually means:
- Regular hearing checks in controlled conditions
- Informing employees about the results of their hearing checks
- Keeping health records
- Ensuring employees are examined by a doctor where hearing damage is identified.
In an ideal world, health surveillance would commence before people are exposed to loud noise so that a baseline reading can be identified. It can however be introduced at any time for employees already exposed to noise.
Following an initial consultation, employees should have their hearing tested at least every year for the first two years of employment, followed by three-yearly tests, although this should be more frequent if any hearing damage is detected, or if the employee works in a particularly noisy environment. The tests should be conducted and monitored by a trained healthcare professional; such as an occupational health expert, a doctor, or a nurse with appropriate training. The employer has the responsibility for making sure any Health Surveillance is conducted properly.
Employers must provide health surveillance (hearing checks) for all employees who are likely to be regularly exposed to noise above the Upper Exposure Action Values, and for those who already suffer from hearing loss or are particularly sensitive to damage. The purpose of the surveillance is to warn if employees might be suffering the early signs of hearing damage, to give an opportunity to act to prevent any further damage, and also to check that control measures are working.
These records need to be kept and fitness for work advice should be provided for each employee. A Health and Safety Inspector can ask to see health records as a part of their checks. Any findings can be important when reviewing or revising risk assessments to keep employees safe.
If your hearing has been damaged from exposure to high levels of noise in your workplace, the first person you should contact is your doctor. The next call you should make is to one of our highly trained solicitors. We have years of experience in this area of health and safety law, and are best placed to advise you as to how to take your claim forward. Contact us today and see how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.