New starter hearing testing

A question which often comes up is new starter testing, and how soon they should be given a hearing test when they start working for an employer.

The idealistic answer is 'on the day they start' which is OK for companies with an in-house Occupational Health department where new starters can be sent as part of their induction. Now, for the test of us...

If you have a production area with some high noise in it, you give employees hearing protection. If they wear that hearing protection and it's use is enforced, then their actual exposure to harmful noise at work is going to be pretty much zero. On the other hand, getting a company in to do a test on one or two or a handful of people is fairly expensive. 

Given their use of hearing protection, the the risk of you damaging their hearing in the first months or even year of employment is so vanishingly small as to be irrelevant. In this situation you are not going to impact people's hearing in a few weeks, months or even a year, it's a complete misreading of risk to suggest otherwise. Then, when the cost of any hearing testing is taken into account, it is just not a reasonably practicable step to take - the risk is not remotely proportional to the cost.

My advice, make sure hearing protection is worn and then just roll them into the next batch of hearing tests whenever that is due. I would love to say 'test them in the first week or so' as it would mean loads of extra work for us, but it is just not necessary. 

While I think of it though, make sure that on induction they get a short session on noise and protection of hearing - if you are stumped then a free five minute noise induction presentation is available to download and use here as The Noise Chap is lovely like that.