Audiometric testing service info

You are thinking of making the wise choice to get a quote in from us for some audiometry at work, and are wondering what we cover and how we compare to the competition. To save making the quote or audiometry page of this site into an interminable document which will leave you weeping gently in a corner muttering ‘please make it stop’, this is some additional information on the hearing tests we provide.

Are there any additional costs for the audiometric tests?

Nope, the quote is the price plus VAT, and that’s it. There are no other charges for things like travel, accommodation, or as we have heard some clients have had to pay for in the past - extra charges for a written report or even ‘fit to work’ statements for the attendees. Night shift testing is included as standard if needed - we do the hearing tests on the shifts your people work. That is all included in the one price you were given.

Do we work nationally and charge for travel?

Yes, we can annoy people about their hearing anywhere in the UK, and no, we do not charge for travel. We schedule audiometric testing work around a region so if we have one day in Newcastle we will group other jobs so the technician works in maybe Nottingham, Leeds, Newcastle and Hull in the same week, meaning the travel isn’t far from site to site. In 2019 we have worked from the the Isle of Wight to Northern Ireland, Kent to Inverness.

Do we cover shifts and do we charge for it?

Yes and no is the short answer. We happily cover shifts and no, we don’t charge extra for ‘out of hours’ testing.

For smaller jobs we will just adjust the technician’s working days so all shifts are covered.

For larger audiometric testing sessions we usually send two screening units, with one testing from 9am to 5pm, and the second from 6pm to 1am, for example. Why does the evening person get an hour less of work I hear you ask? Simple, The Noise Chap himself, (all hail the Noise God for he is great), tends to do the evenings and would rather keep testing than have breaks but then be going on an hour longer in the small hours of the morning.

You seem a bit informal, will you do a professional job?

We put a human face on it - we enjoy what we do hence the website is slightly jokey in places and the company name is pretty informal, but you can be informal and approachable while also being professional and providing a top-level service. As for the name, we are owned by a chap and we just do noise, and the domain name was available. And it doesn’t sounds too corporate which appeals to us.

With us you are dealing directly with the business owner or audiometric testing technician rather than some back-office sales team so if you have a question it will be answered honestly and accurately. We have no big company to hide behind. We are directly accountable for every result we provide.

Do attendees need a noise-free period before their audiometric test?

We recommend reminding employees of the importance of wearing hearing protection on the day of their test. That way there is no excess noise exposure which they then need to recover from.

As a backup we recommend 15 minutes noise-free before their audiometric test, but this can include walking to the screening unit, completing the pre-test hearing health questionnaire in the waiting room, then reviewing it with the technician and having their ears examined with the otoscope. This will give the recommended 15 minutes before the actual ‘hear noise press button’ part of the test begins.

Why use a noise specialist rather than an all-services company?

There are many other companies out there who offer audiometric testing as part of a whole suite of services, including occupational health but also extending into things like H&S, HR or legal services. So what are the benefits of using a specialist in hearing testing over one of the broader service companies?

  • We have no interest in flogging you other services or up-selling. Unlike some of the big all-service providers, our technicians have no sales targets and they have no incentive to up-sell.

  • No company is a jack of all trades - there are some things they are good at, and some they are less good at. We have heard many times of ‘full-service’ suppliers providing audiometry but at a really rubbish standard as it is not the focus of their company.

  • As a small company we have a direct relationship between us and the client, meaning we want to do the best job possible so you hopefully come back again. In big companies the technicians can seem more interested in getting in and out quickly or selling more services than doing the job as well as can be done.

To be frank, we’ve been there and done the all-services approach in the past and it just wasn’t enjoyable. We aren’t focused on growing the company into some audiometry behemoth and genuinely enjoy what we do. We are damn good at hearing tests and noise assessments, meaning we enjoy work which is indeed a rare thing, and is definitely not something the big boys can say.

Why is our audiometric testing report better than most others?

One way to do the reports is to let the software do it. It churns out a pretty list of attendee names with some anonymous statistics, and that’s it. That is the way a lot of screening companies use, but it’s a bit rubbish.

Our way is to give you the overall statistics of not just attendee results but also things like the numbers of people who say they don’t wear hearing protection which can be useful for management to know. We then also give a list of attendee names and a paragraph of information for every Category 3 or 4 person on why they scored that result and what, if anything, the employer should do as follow-up. For every unilateral (a loss in one ear) we also let you know what, if anything, is needed for those. We also give clear ‘fit to work’ statements for each group of people, and give you a spreadsheet of all attendees and retest dates to help with future management of it. And finally, we give you every audiogram for every attendee - the graph of the result with the dB per frequency.

This means you have the records for comparison in future tests if you choose to go elsewhere, not that we want you to! Your data is controlled by you and ensures you get continuity between providers should you choose not to use us in the future.

What about new starters or people who were off at the time of testing?

We have a couple of pages going into this at length. This is how we recommend new starters are covered, and this page details people who were not able to attend their audiometric test. In summary:

For existing clients, if you have people who missed a scheduled test, one option is that we can put them on our ‘catch up’ list and will then call in when in the area to do them. For this we only charge a small per-test fee rather than a daily or half-day fee.

For new starters, there are a number of options on that linked page but above all, if you have hearing protection in place which has been assessed and is known to be good, then the main advice is ‘don’t worry too much about it as there is no risk - you’ve controlled it’ so just lump them into the next scheduled hearing testing session.

Why are our audiometric tests better than self-operated tablet-based audiometry systems?

Because we offer standards-compliant audiometric testing and they don’t, put a little bluntly.

To be fair to all our other competitors with mobile audiometric testing units, they can also do standards-compliant hearing testing, it’s just the ones who send a tablet in a briefcase who don’t and there is no way for those systems to do the job properly. To be unambiguous, there is no self-operated hearing test system-in-a-box provider out there which gives British Standards-compliant audiometry. There is a longer explanation here of why self-operated audiometric testing systems are a bit rubbish here, but in a nutshell:

  • No daily on-site verification check of the audiometer = non-compliant audiometry.

  • No otoscopic (visual) examination of the ear = non-compliant audiometry.

  • Attendee puts the headphones on themselves = non-compliant audiometry.

There are more issues with them as well such as the same test being done no matter what the attendee health history is (useless), or the same ‘your result is X which means Y’ drivel given as explanation of a result rather than it being tied to their personal history and noise exposure, but writing it all out makes my blood pressure spike and I start swearing uncontrollably about ‘half-hearted nonsense’ so it’s best I stop there.

What do you do about referrals?

There is a page giving a lot of information on how we manage audiometric testing referrals, but in summary, what we do is, we believe, fairly unique. We come at it from the perspective of ‘what helps the employer and employee the most’, meaning we don’t simply say all Category 3 or 4 cases are a ‘fail’ and unthinkingly refer them.

We have a system of what we call ‘informal referral’ and ‘formal referral’ and these rely on the experience and judgement of our audiometry technicians - they are not simply there to press a button and read off a script but make specific recommendations based on the individual in front of them.

If someone has a hearing problem which in all likelihood has no potential link to workplace noise, then we may recommend they seek follow-up examination for their own health. But, as this is for their own health we class it as an ‘informal referral’, and note it in the report as such, saying clearly that the employer need not be involved in any follow-up action for this.

If someone has a hearing problem which is previously unknown and is one where workplace noise cannot b ruled out, we class that as a ‘formal referral’, and would make specific recommendations for the employer to follow it up with them. We are clear on what the employer should do and do not use generic pre-prepared statements.

This means the burden of work on the employer is reduced, their focus is just on the few cases where they need to be looking, but the wider body of employees still benefit from the examinations and their own health is improved.

You are small and not been around too long, are you any good and is the equipment decent?

While The Noise Chap as a company has only been around since 2018, we have been doing this for a LONG time.

Adam, The Noise Chap himself, has been doing workplace audiometric testing for nigh-on 26 years now. He set up a previous company which did all kinds of health and safety jobs, including audiometric testing, for clients ranging from small engineering factories to multinationals with tens of thousands of employees. There was a desire to get away from all the health and safety jobs and focus back just on noise issues, so after 11 years that company was sold and later on The Noise Chap was started to focus solely on noise-related issues. It says a lot about our service that many of our old customers have come back with no hesitation. So yes, The Noise Chap as a company is fairly new, but we have been doing this for a long time and already have an extensive national client base covering retailers such as Next, NHS trusts, engineering plants and big food manufacturers.

As for the equipment, our units were built (in 2018 and 2019) to our own specification and with the conversion and fitting cost around £90,000 of Adam’s own money to get up and running. The audiometers used are ones we have used for years and know to be both bullet-proof in terms of reliability, and accurate. We design the units to our own specification to ensure they are as slick as possible for getting the hearing tests done as fast and as accurately as possible, and far far faster than testing in a meeting room or office.

How instant are the audiometric test results and how quickly will we get our report?

The results for the attendee are instant. The second they finish their audiometric test we sit them down and explain what the result means for them, incorporating not just the results category but also their hearing health history and what the result means for them specifically in that wider context. We print the hearing test result immediately and give them a copy to take away and peruse at their leisure.

The employer gets their report in around one week. This is because for every Category 3 and 4 case we write specific recommendations for that person - what their result is, what it means for the employer, fit to work statements and any recommendations for follow-up actions and why. You are getting clear ‘this is the issue, so we recommend you do this…’ from us rather than bland statements which leave the employer in the dark.

Why are we better than anyone else for workplace audiometric testing?

There are many ways in which are frankly utterly fantastic untouchable ear-bothering Gods, but some are:

  • As mentioned elsewhere here, we offer standards-compliant audiometric testing so unlike testing done in a meeting room or using a system-in-a-box posted to you, we can stand by every result obtained and will happily speak to your insurers if you get a claim or speak to the HSE directly about results if it helps.

  • Even if you get a claim years down the line we can prove the calibration of the audiometer, the daily on-site verification check, the competence of the technician, how healthy the ear was at the time when visually examined before the test, and even the noise levels in the testing environment at the time.

  • We give specific advice on individuals and do not just churn out standard pre-prepared statements on a results category.

  • We give you all the results - we don’t sit on it as secret stuff so you have to keep coming back to us.

  • We have no interest in selling you more and more services. We chose to specialise in this rather than being a jack-of-all-trades.

  • You are dealing with a small company who does tens of thousands of audiometry tests in a year, so we can cope with the smallest and largest jobs.

What is this gubbins actually called anyway?

It goes by many names with hearing testing, audiometry, audiometric testing and audiology being the ones most commonly used. We wish one was a clear winner as it would mean writing this website would be a lot easier as we could focus on one phrase for people to find, but like our technician Rob on a Friday night out, it goes by many different names!