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This is the full text of the Sound Advice Working Group recommendations on hearing health surveillance for people who work in the music industry. It may help you make sure people at risk have their hearing regularly checked.
6.1 Employers must provide health surveillance involving hearing checks for all employees who are likely to be frequently exposed at or above either upper exposure action value, or are at risk for any other reason, for example they already suffer from hearing loss or are particularly sensitive to damage. It is not a suitable substitute for controlling risk at source.
6.2 The purpose of health surveillance is to:
6.3 Employees must co-operate with their employer's health surveillance programme. Employers should consult their trade union(s) safety representative(s), or employee representative(s) and the employees concerned before introducing health surveillance. It is important that everyone understands that the aim of health surveillance is to protect their hearing. Understanding and co-operation are essential if health surveillance is to be effective.
6.4 There is no requirement for self-employed people to have health surveillance, however they are strongly advised to arrange it if they think their exposure frequently exceeds the upper exposure action value, they regularly have to wear hearing protection, or have other concerns about their hearing. If you are a freelancer, see Sound Advice Note 7 Freelancers.
6.5 Hearing checks can be a matter of concern for those whose employment depends on their ability to hear. Musicians and sound engineers rely on good hearing and they may worry that any deterioration will affect their ability to carry out their work activities. Employees and freelancers should be encouraged to view health surveillance programmes (hearing checks) as a positive contribution to preserving their hearing.
6.6 For some, the check will show that there is no problem, while others may find that their hearing is in the early stages of damage. Some may already suspect that their hearing is deteriorating and check results may confirm these fears. These individuals may be worried that they will lose their jobs if their employer is informed that they are 'losing their hearing'. However disciplinary action cannot be based on the results of the hearing check.
6.7 Whatever the outcome, the check should be viewed as an opportunity to identify any deterioration at an early stage and to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to prevent any further harm.
6.8 Health surveillance for hearing damage usually means:
6.9 Ideally health surveillance starts before people are exposed to noise (for new starters or those changing jobs) to give a baseline. Ensure this covers all those people who are employed on a regular basis.
6.10 Health surveillance can, however, be introduced at any time after exposure to noise. This would be followed by a regular series of checks, usually annually for the first two years and then at three-yearly intervals (although this may need to be more frequent if any problem with hearing is detected or where the risk of hearing damage is high).
6.11 Hearing checks should be carried out by someone who has the appropriate training. The whole health surveillance programme needs to be under the control of an occupational health professional (for example a doctor or a nurse with appropriate training and experience). Employers must make sure that any hearing health surveillance is carried out properly.
6.12 Larger companies or organisations may have access to in-house occupational health services which may be able to carry out the programme. An external contractor is necessary where there are no facilities in-house. Details of occupational health services may be found through trade associations or local business support organisations. The Musicians Union provides advice for freelancers.
6.13 Suitable occupational health service providers will be able to demonstrate they have the training and experience needed. They should be able to:
6.14 Analysing the results of health surveillance for groups of workers can give an insight into how well the programme to control noise risks is working. The results should be used to target noise reduction, education and compliance practices more accurately. This information should be made available to employees or safety representatives.
6.15 The employer needs to:
A major multi-media company engaged an occupational health provider to cover their requirement for health surveillance.
The company implemented the following:
Several levels of health surveillance were also agreed with the occupational health provider:
Example: Wearing limited headphones/listening to noise level from a controlled output on a regular basis.
Example: Working in areas with unlimited output and/or unlimited headphones.
Example: Very noisy areas (festivals, live events etc); musicians, depending on risk assessment or noise measurement.
Note: The occupational health provider decided, in the case of Level 3 employees, to increase the degree of health surveillance beyond HSE's guidance.
For a more detailed explanation of terms see Useful information and glossary.
Exposure action values (EAV): Levels of exposure to noise at which certain actions need to be taken (see Useful information and glossary").
Freelancer: Someone who is not permanently employed full-time by any one employer. A freelancer may go through periods of self-employment or be employed by more than one employer.
Health record: Record of the person's details, work assignments and exposures, dates of any health surveillance procedures and information on the person's fitness to work in noisy environments. The record does not contain clinical details and must be kept by the employer. It is not a confidential document.
Health surveillance: For the purposes of this guidance, ongoing assessment of the state of aural health of an employee as related to exposure to noise.
Medical record: Account of a person's examination and treatment including their medical history, any medication, therapies and referrals. Medical records are confidential and may not be shown to the employer without the written consent of the individual. (See Useful information and glossary)
Musicians' Union: 60-62 Clapham Road, London SW9 0JJ. Tel: 020 7582 5566 www.musiciansunion.org.uk
Noise exposure: 'The noise dose', which can be calculated, takes account of the actual volume of sound and how long it continues. Noise exposure is not the same as sound level, which is the level of noise measured at a particular moment.
Control of noise in the music entertainment industry. Code of practice Worksafe Western Australia Commission 2003 www.docep.wa.gov.au/worksafe
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005SI 2005 No 1643 The Stationery Office 2005 ISBN 978 0 11 072984 8 (also available from www.opsi.gov.uk)
Controlling noise at work. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. Guidance on Regulations L108 (Second edition) HSE Books 2005 ISBN 978 0 7176 6164 0
Listen while you work: Hearing conservation for the arts for performers and other workers in art and entertainment Safety & Health in Arts Production & Entertainment (SHAPE), Canada 2001 ISBN 978 0 7726 4643 9 www.shape.bc.ca/resources/pdf/listen.pdf
Noise at work: Guidance for employers on the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. Leaflet INDG362(rev1) HSE Books 2005 (single copy free or priced packs of 10 ISBN 978 0 7176 6165 7) www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg362.pdf
Protect your hearing or lose it! Pocket card INDG363(rev1) HSE Books 2005 (single copy free or priced packs of 25 ISBN 978 0 7176 6166 4) www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg363.pdf
Health surveillance at workHSG61 (Second edition) HSE Books 1999 ISBN 978 0 7176 1705 0