Pre-Employment Hearing Testing - Audiometric Test

Should you require pre-employment hearing tests from your job candidates? An audiometric test ensures that a potential employee will be able to adequately hear so that they are able to perform their tasks accurately and safely, for themselves, their co-workers and customers. There is another important aspect of audiometry testing before hiring, and that is to establish a baseline for the person's hearing acuity, which is especially important if they will be working in a noisy environment. In fact, in workplaces that exceed a specified noise level, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires periodic hearing tests. If this applies to your business, we highly recommend a pre-employment hearing test for every applicant.

Health Street offers a wide range of comprehensive occupational health screenings, including audiometric exams. Through our integrated StaffGlass platform, our business partners can order a pre-employment hearing test for a candidate, schedule the exam, track status and manage tests for all applicants. If the person is hired, their information becomes their employee record. From there, you can schedule a hearing check every year of their employment and monitor their test results. This streamlines the process of keeping your employees safe and healthy.

What is Audiometry?

Audiometry is a measure of the range and sensitivity of someone’s sense of hearing. In an audiometry test, a certified audiologist will do an audiometry evaluation to determine the quietest sound that a person can hear across the range of speech. A whisper is approximately 20 dB, while a jet engine can be as loud as 180 dB. A sound tone is measured in Hertz (Hz). The low bass tones range is about 50-60 Hz, and high-pitched tones are at least 10,000 Hz. Each ear is independently tested since many people have different hearing in each ear.

Pure-tone testing is one type of audiometry. The results of this type of hearing testing are illustrated in a graph that’s called an audiogram.

How is Hearing Measured?

When a pre-employment hearing test is administered at a Heath Street testing facility, the licensed or certified audiologist will have the person listen to different pitches, or frequencies, in a quiet environment. The audiometry test measures how well the person hears each sound. Audiograms show the range of frequencies across the x-axis and the loudness of the sound, in decibels, along the y-axis. Each ear is charted separately, with zero (0) indicating the softest sound that someone with normal hearing can detect.

The Importance of a Pre-Employment Hearing Test

Pre-employment hearing tests are extremely important for certain workplaces and occupations. As an employer or hiring manager, you should consider:

Job Fitness

The ability to hear clearly is a requirement for most jobs. A potential employee must have a level of hearing that’s adequate to perform tasks without endangering the safety of themselves, co-workers and customers. This is especially important for hospital staff and other healthcare workers, air traffic controllers, and commercial truck drivers. For transportation employees regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT), all DOT physicals will include an audiometry test.

Health and Liability

If your work environment subjects workers to a certain level of noise exposure (85 dB or higher), you are required to monitor your employees for hearing loss. In addition to maintaining workplace safety and the hearing health of your valued employees, your company may be responsible for occupational hearing loss. OSHA’s Hearing Conservation program discuses hearing loss and prevention and outlines regulations for noisy workplaces. Occupations at the greatest risk of hearing damage include construction workers, manufacturing employees, railway workers, truck drivers and military personnel.

Health Street is highly experienced with audiometry testing and other employee health issues, and we can provide guidance for how your company can ensure a safe and healthy workplace while minimizing risks, avoiding potentially costly liability issues and staying OSHA compliant.

What Employers Should Know About Pre-Employment Hearing Tests

A baseline audiogram performed before the person is hired can help you regularly monitor any changes in their hearing. This is a necessity in loud environments where employees may be at risk for hearing loss. In those circumstances, you can also monitor the effectiveness of any hearing protection that your company provides, such as earplugs or noise-cancelling earphones.

What is Passing for a Hearing Test?

Hearing exams aren’t pass/fail, but the degree of hearing loss. The normal hearing range is 0 decibels (dB), the audiometric testing baseline, to 25 dB. Mild hearing loss is 26-40 dB, moderate loss is 41-55 dB, moderate-to-severe loss is 56-70 dB and profound hearing loss is 71-100 dB.

Can an Employee Refuse a Hearing Test?

OSHA does not require employees to take a hearing test. They also do not prohibit your company from making a hearing check mandatory. Since you may be held liable for hearing loss in a noisy work environment, audiometric testing is required if the work environment noise threshold is 85 dB or above. Pre-employment testing determines the person’s baseline hearing.

Information to Give Your Applicants

If your organization requires an occupational hearing test for all potential employees, you should explain to them why this is important for their health and safety. A non-invasive hearing test is as simple as listening to sounds. It is not at all painful, and Health Street makes it easy for candidates as well as employers. We have more than 14,000 clinics nationwide, and they can choose a time and location that is most convenient.

Is a Hearing Test Required for Employment?

Not all companies will require audiometric testing. Businesses where a hearing test is required for employment have an excellent reason for doing so — to protect the health and well-being of their employees, as well as to ensure workplace safety.

What Should You Not Do Before a Hearing Test

Don’t attend a loud rock concert (or be around loud noises), have wax in your ears or go to your appointment sick, which can cause mucus to build up in your middle ear.

Manage Audiometric Tests and Other Pre-Hire Screenings with StaffGlass

At Health Street, we provide you with easy ways to provide comprehensive screenings, including thorough hearing tests. Our nationwide licensed clinics are conveniently located, and they provide fast, secure results.

For our busines partners, we offer StaffGlass, an integrated recruitment and onboarding platform that combines ID verification, background checks, drug testing, occupational health screenings, e-sign document management and applicant tracking.

If your company requires pre-employment hearing tests, you can easily schedule the exams for multiple applicants through our secure web-based platform. After the individual chooses a location and time for the hearing exam, you can monitor the status of that exam and then view the hearing test results securely from the dashboard.

All tests and screenings are accessible from the applicant’s record. If you decide to hire them, that becomes their employee record, and you can order, manage and view follow-up testing, maintaining a complete picture of the person’s health over the course of their employment.

Health Street occupational health testing and StaffGlass benefits include:

  • A large network of licensed clinics
  • Safe, private tests from a hearing professional
  • Choose from other exams and drug testing, from within the same application
  • Access testing status and results from anywhere – no hardware or software required
  • Keep a record of your applicant’s baseline hearing and monitor their level of hearing throughout their employment, to comply with OSHA regulations.

Order a pre-employment hearing test for job applicants as part of your recruitment screenings and discover how we can help you streamline your recruitment efforts.

Citations

“Audiometry.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003341.htm

“The Audiogram.” American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), https://www.asha.org/public/hearing/audiogram/

“Hearing Conservation.” Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), 2002 (Revised), https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3074.pdf

“Hearing Tests for Adults: What to Expect.” WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/hearing-tests-for-adults#1