Understanding workers' hearing test results
Hearing tests are a key part of your hearing conservation program. You can use workers’ test results to determine the effectiveness of your program and, if necessary, make changes accordingly. See Annual hearing testing for information on testing and how to access your report.
The hearing test report provides important information on worker hearing test results found in our database. It also lets you know whether your workers regularly wear hearing protection devices (HPDs) — based on their individual responses to that question. You can access the information as soon as test results have been submitted by the industrial audiometric technician who conducted the test.
When you access your report, check to ensure that everyone in your workplace who is exposed to noise on a regular basis was tested. If they were not, be sure to follow up and book them a hearing test as soon as possible.
Keep in mind this report contains personal information and must not be posted in the workplace.
You can also view statistics of hearing tests in B.C. and compare your test results to others in your sector.
The IAB# column will be populated with information on which industrial audiometric business (IAB) conducted the tests, if it is in our system.
This column contains only the first five letters of the surname. Some abbreviated names may have the symbol "@" instead of the first letter, replacing "Mc" or "Mac" in a worker's surname.
Surname, First Name, and Middle Name
If you generate a report for older tests, the report may not have Surname, First Name, and Middle Name for some workers. It will only have the Abbreviated Surname, since our older system did not collect full names.
Hearing test date formats can also vary depending on the data we have in our system. They might appear in year, month, and date format (YYYYMMDD), or year and month (YYYYMM) if you run the report for older data.
Test Result Categories
You'll notice that there are "Baseline" and "Periodic" tests.
Baseline tests are the first hearing tests conducted for a worker, so no previous tests are available for comparison purposes. Baseline tests are categorized as follows:
- No Notch — the worker does not appear to have noise-induced hearing loss
- Early Warning — noise has affected the worker's hearing at some time in the past
- Abnormal — the worker has hearing loss, but it does not appear to be caused by noise exposure
Periodic tests are compared with previous tests in our system to determine whether a worker has experienced a change in hearing. Periodic tests are categorized as follows:
- Normal Change — tests show no changes in the worker's hearing due to noise exposure
- Early Warning Change — it appears that noise has affected the worker's hearing at some time
- Abnormal Change — the worker's hearing changes are likely not due to noise exposure
L/R ear results
Test results for each worker are supplied for both the left and right ears.
For workers with Early Warning Change
When you study your report, look for test results of workers with noise-induced hearing loss — indicated by Early Warning Change. If your noise control and hearing conservation program is working, you would see no Early Warning Change. If you do see Early Warning Change, take the following steps:
- Address possible patterns or trends in your workplace, particularly if more than one of your workers has Early Warning Change. For example, focus on whether workers identified with Early Warning Change work in a specific area of the worksite, or whether they use similar equipment, wear similar HPDs, are of a similar age, etc. This can help you determine possible reasons, and corrective action, for the noise-induced hearing loss.
- Determine what kinds of controls you can introduce to reduce the level or duration of noise exposure for your workers, such as engineering controls (for example, mufflers or enclosures) or administrative controls (for example, reducing the amount of time a worker spends doing certain tasks in a noisy environment).
- Keep in mind that noise-induced hearing loss can result from workers wearing inappropriate or insufficient hearing protection. Follow up on this. Ensure all workers have appropriate HPDs, that they are in good condition, and that workers wear HPDs properly whenever they are exposed to noise.
- Talk to the workers who have reported not wearing HPDs ("N" under "HPD") to find out why. For tests conducted after March 2021, the report will provide the reason they stated for not wearing HPDs. If they say wearing HPDs is uncomfortable, find devices that are more comfortable. If they're frustrated by being unable to hear certain sounds, consider HPDs that block less sound. Learn about different types of hearing protection devices.
- Ensure that you supply speech-enhanced, level-dependent, or radio-connected HPDs if workers need them to communicate or stay safe.
- Provide workplace instruction and information (such as a toolbox talk) to ensure that all workers are informed about noise hazards and are motivated to protect their hearing.
- Document the steps you take and keep with the records of your noise control and hearing conservation program. A template is available to help you plan and record your program.
For workers in other hearing loss categories
- Early Warning — Ensure these workers understand that noise might have already affected their hearing. Make sure they have appropriate hearing protection, and that they understand when and how it must be worn to prevent further hearing loss.
- Abnormal or Abnormal Change — Advise these workers to consult their family doctor or nurse practitioner.
- No Notch or Normal Change — Ensure these workers have appropriate hearing protection, and that they are trained to understand noise hazards and the importance of protecting their hearing.
If you find any incorrect information on your hearing test report, please email corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org.