The 3rd Edition of L108, The Control of Noise at Work Regulations: Guidance on Regulations was published in 2021 has introduced changes to interpretation of hearing test results.
The new classification are based on the presence of absence of noise induced hearing loss as well as the summation of the hearing levels obtained at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6kHz. It also confirms the importance of audiometry being conducted at 0.5 and 8 kHz.
Signs of Noise Induced Hearing Loss is seen as a ‘Notch’ or a ‘Bulge’ in the 3, 4 and 6kHz and if these are newly identified or progressive (getting worse), the new HSE Category is ‘3’ whether the sum of the hearing levels meet the ‘significant hearing loss levels’ or not.
Signs of Noise Induced Hearing Loss (the notch or bulge) which is seen to be stable over a period of 3 years, the new HSE Category is ‘2’, whether the sum of the hearing levels meet the ‘mild hearing loss levels’ or not.
|Category||NIHL seen on audiogram?||Calculation||Action|
|Acceptable hearing ability||No||Sum of hearing levels at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 kHz||Repeat health surveillance at next routine interval|
|Mild hearing loss||Stable NIHL may be present||Sum of hearing levels at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 kHz||Consider earlier repeat health surveillance than routine, taking into account factors such as extent of hearing loss|
|Significant hearing loss or new/progressive NIHL||Yes, newly identified or progressive NIHL may be present||Sum of hearing levels at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 kHz||Refer for medical assessment. Timing of next health surveillance depends on outcome of assessment|
|Rapid hearing loss||Possible||Sum of hearing levels at 3, 4, and 6 kHz||Refer for medical assessment. Timing of next health surveillance depends on outcome of assessment|
Where there is a decrease of more than 10dB in any frequency tested in comparison with the previous tests, the audiometry should be repeated.
It is important to ensure that the audiometry is carried out in the best possible environment with the employees not exposed to noise or wearing their hearing protection correctly in noisy environments for 14 hours prior to the test.
Our noise surveys and can provide you with a sound attenuated hearing booth fitted into a mobile screening van, or delivered to your site, to promote a quiet environment. We do recommend that this is sited in a quite environment to reduce the need to repeat hearing tests caused by external environmental noise. You may wish to do a simple quick check using a free to download sound meter app to make sure the background noise levels are below 35 dB (A) without a booth, and 50 dB (A) wherever possible.
What does it mean for you?
As a result of the HSE category changes, you may notice an increase in the number of employees with Category 2 and 3 hearing loss in the summary data. You still have a statutory obligation to reduce noise exposure reduction so far as reasonably possible.
Peritus has been advising you of those who are showing some sign of Noise Induced Hearing Loss even if they are not reaching the identified ‘mild hearing loss level’ or ‘significant hearing loss level’. These has been identified on your health surveillance reports previously as ‘Cat 1 with notch’. There should be little difference between the numbers identified with some sign of noise induced hearing loss on the whole therefore, only the categories. You will no longer seen the additional category of Cat 1 with a notch.
There may be a requirement to repeat some audiometry tests based on the responses from employees. We will monitor the audiogram results during testing and repeat frequencies at the end of the test where there is a greater than 10 dB reduction in specific frequencies. If this continues however, we will need to repeat it at a later stage, preferable pre-workplace noise exposure.