On-Site Audiogram Program Update
Occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related health issues in the United States, costing employers an estimated $242 million annually.
However, noise-induced hearing loss, the type at issue in workers’ compensation claims, is completely preventable. This type of hearing loss occurs gradually, and employees may not notice the signs until it is too late.
Annual audiometric testing identifies flaws in your hearing loss prevention program that can be repaired before permanent hearing loss occurs.
As an employer in Washington State, if you have employees exposed to noise levels at or greater than 85 dBA, you are required to have a hearing loss prevention program and to conduct audiometric testing.
Free On-Site Audiograms
In order to help you fulfill this requirement, the Trust introduced free annual on-site audiograms as an added benefit for all member districts last year. We are happy to report since that time, more than half of our districts have participated in this program, with over 300 audiograms completed.
These districts have taken the important first step of establishing a baseline test result for those employees considered to be at high risk. Going forward, these employees will be tested annually to conduct a comparative analysis of whether there has been any hearing loss. If your district participated in this program last year, you will be contacted by our vendor, Listen Audiology, to schedule a new appointment near the prior year’s testing anniversary date.
Time for a Baseline
If your district did not participate last year, you can start the program at any time by making an appointment with Listen Audiology at your convenience, to establish baseline results. These services are offered free of charge as part of your membership with the Trust. If you have any questions, please contact our loss control staff, Steve Lyons or Matt Tardif, for assistance.
Who to Test?
When assessing which employees will require audiograms, please know that testing is limited to the employee classifications listed below, which are known to be exposed to a time weighted average (TWA) greater than 85 decibels in an 8-hour workday:
- Maintenance & Operations – Grounds Maintenance, Facilities Maintenance, and “All Trades” Maintenance
- Transportation Maintenance – Bus Mechanics
- Music Instructors – Music, Band, and Choir
- Vocational Education Instructors – Wood Shop, Metal Shop, and Automotive Technology
Please keep in mind:
- Once you make an appointment, make every effort to invite staff from all classifications listed above.
- Allow a 2-hour testing window per on-site appointment to test up to 19 employees. (Large school districts may need to schedule additional time.)
- If you need extra time or an extra site visit to include all of your employees in the testing program, please let Steve Lyons or Matt Tardif know. They can authorize the additional testing time for you.
Take Action Now!
Establishing a baseline for hearing loss is extremely important. Not only can it help protect your staff’s hearing, it may protect your district from a costly hearing-loss claim. Please forward this information on to maintenance and transportation supervisors, as well as band, music, and vocational instructors.