Audiometric Testing Set to Become Mandatory in NSW on 1/1/2024
Weekly WHS Article 24th August 2023
Audiometric testing is defined in clause 58 (3) of the NSW WHS Regulation 2017 as;
"audiometric testing means the testing and measurement of the hearing threshold levels of each ear of a person by means of pure tone air conduction threshold tests”.
Clause 58 (2) says the PCBU must provide audiometric testing;
“The person conducting the business who provides the personal protective equipment as a control measure must provide audiometric testing for the worker--
(a) within 3 months of the worker commencing the work, and
(b) in any event, at least every 2 years.
(a) in the case of an individual--70 penalty units, [see note1 for $s]
(b) in the case of a body corporate--345 penalty units.” [see note 2 for $s]
WorkCover/SafeWork NSW exempted clause 58 (2)
PCBUs in NSW have been exempted by WorkCover/SafeWork NSW from having to comply with clause 58(2) since 20/12/13. But those days are nearly over because SafeWork NSW’s exemption will expire on the 31st December 2023.
PCBUs must comply with clause 58(2) from the 1 st January 2024
From the 1 st of January 2024, PCBUs must comply with clause 58(2). [Note 3] SafeWork NSW will publish guidance material on noise, hearing and audiometric testing before the end of 2023.
Many PCBUs have complied with clause (2) regardless of the exemption.
PCBUs duty to manage risks in the workplace
Under Clause 32 of the WHS Regulation, and Section 19(3)(g) of the WHS Act it is the duty of the PCBU to manage risks in the workplace. Therefore, it is expected that the PCBU fully assesses and manages all risks that may lead to noise-induced hearing loss, ideally eliminating the risks entirely using the Hierarchy of Control measures. Elimination is the desired result of any risk assessment. PPE is a control measure applied in the event of a risk or risks that cannot be eliminated. [Note 4]
A noise assessment can be done as part of the risk management process. Testing of staff for noise-related hearing loss may be required in the event of incidents in the workplace and can be conducted regularly for early prevention in workplaces where noise cannot be eliminated and PPE is in use.
SafeWork NSW Inspectors visit and inspect
SafeWork NSW inspectors may identify and respond to noise-related matters when called to a site for requests for service and for incidents. Between 2017 and 2022 SafeWork NSW inspectors issued a total of 77 improvement notices and a small number of more serious notices on noise management, for a total of 81 for the period.
SafeWork NSW report that there have been 75 on site visit type actions recorded specifically relating to noise however the number of times inspectors have provided education on the subject at site is far greater. From November 2020 – June 2021 SafeWork ran a series of online forums titled “Ask an Inspector about Noise.” In mid-2021 SafeWork embarked on an advisory/compliance program of visits to manufacturing plants in NSW specifically focusing on noise control. These were all well received with positive outcomes. [Note 3]
Workers compensation premiums
We know of a company whose annual workers compensation premium went from $70,000 to $190,000 for every year of the following three years directly because of two noise-related injury claims at this workplace.
Noise assessment and/or audiometric testing
If you are interested in a workplace noise assessment and/or audiometric testing as part of risk management actions or any continuous improvement program, please contact us here at Courtenell. We may be able to help.
Note 1: equates to $7522.90
Note 2: equates to $37,077.15
Note 3: https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/legal-obligations/legislation/exemptions-accordion/audiometric-testing-requirements
Note 4: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/safety-topic/managing-health-and-safety/personal-protective-equipment-ppe/whs-duties
24th August 2023
Copyright © 2023 Courtenell. All rights reserved.