Workers employed in a prescribed workplace for the first time must have an initial baseline audiometric hearing test within twelve months of commencing employment. It is compulsory for the employer to arrange pay for the audiometric test, (regardless of hearing protection being worn).

Who is responsible?

It is your employer’s responsibility to arrange and pay for all WorkCover WA audiometric tests.

Prescribed workplaces
A prescribed workplace is a workplace or part of a workplace where workers receive or are likely to receive a representative daily noise dose of 90dB(A) or above in an eight-hour day. This is approximately equal to the noise of an idling heavy motor truck one metre away. A workplace is also considered a prescribed workplace if noise exposure peaks at 140dB(lin) at any time. This is approximately equal to the peak noise level from a blast or siren being sounded close to the worker.
Baseline hearing tests

A baseline hearing test is the initial audiometric testing conducted to establish your baseline (reference) or overall Percentage Loss of Hearing (PLH). A small percentage of workers may be required to undertake a baseline fill audiological assessment as part of the baseline hearing assessment.

Note: Workers undergo one baseline hearing test in their lifetime. Workers can request in writing a subsequent test annually from their employer. The PLH of all subsequent tests will be compared to the baseline PLH to determine the overall percentage loss of hearing.

Undergoing a baseline hearing test
It is your employer’s responsibility to arrange and pay for baseline and subsequent tests and notify you of the time and date of the test. It is the responsibility of both you and your employer to ensure that you are not exposed to more than 80dB(A) for 16 hours immediately preceding the test. This is approximately equal to the noise of a vacuum cleaner one metre away.

Approved Audiometric Officers & Audiologists

Only testers approved by WorkCover WA can conduct the tests as the testing environment and equipment must also meet stringent standards. For more information and a directory of providers, see the NIHL Directory of Service Providers  for location of testers.

Receiving the test results
All test results must be submitted to WorkCover WA by the Approved Audiometric Officer/Audiologist and a copy provided to you, within one month of the test taking place. The results are strictly confidential and access cannot be granted to anyone without a workers’ written consent.
Compensation for noise induced hearing loss

If a subsequent audiometric test shows an increase in overall hearing loss of 10 per cent or more from the baseline PLH, WorkCover WA will advise the worker of the requirement for further testing.  An information pack will be sent to you, which includes a Further Testing Nomination Form and a Notice of Arrangement of Audiometric Test Form. If you elect to undertake further testing, you are required to give these forms to your employer to complete. Your employer will then arrange and pay for the cost of your appointment with an audiologist selected from the NIHL Directory of Service Providers and notify you of the date and time of the test. You are required to take the notice with you to give to the audiologist prior to undertaking the subsequent full audiological test.

What happens next?

Your subsequent full audiological assessment and report will be submitted to WorkCover WA by the audiologist to determine the nature and extent of the hearing loss. If required, you will arrange an appointment with an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT) selected by the employer from the list of ENT specialists to assess and determine the nature and extent of the hearing loss. Your employer is responsible to pay for the cost of the ENT assessment.

Note: Compensation cannot be claimed for noise induced hearing loss which occurred before March 1991.

Compensation entitlements

Compensation for partial or complete hearing impairment is determined by the percentage of the Prescribed amount.

The insurer of your last employer on risk is required to make the full lump sum payment. Your current employer’s insurer will then be able to recover some or all of this amount from other insurers when it is identified you have been employed in other prescribed workplaces.

For more information contact Advice and Assistance on 1300 794 744.

The Form 21: Notice of Dispute (noise induced hearing loss) can be used by you or your employer when disputing the results of an audiometric hearing test.

NIHL Resources

NIHL resources for workers can be found on the Worker publications page.