An image depicting the safe social distance of 6 feet of space between people

Infection Control Practices for Hearing Testing

Hearing Conservation, Hearing Conservation eBook

2020 will be etched in our minds for decades to come. Events related to COVID-19 have made infection control an even more important consideration for your employees and your Hearing Conservation Program (HCP). There are several advantages to portable, tablet-based testing equipment over conventional approaches. Most notable is the ability to enable hearing testing, all while adhering to physical distancing practices.

Physical Distancing Hearing Testing

This will continue to be important for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, self-testing automated audiometers like SHOEBOX help to enable this. SHOEBOX is optimized for testing outside of a sound booth. Provided your testing area meets the OSHA Maximum Permissible Ambient Noise Levels (MPANLs), and there is enough space for the employee and test administrator to remain 6 feet apart, SHOEBOX could be used to conduct testing without physical contact. In this way, the administrator is close enough to offer guidance to administer the test but far enough away from individuals to reduce the risk of contaminant exposure.

Easy to Disinfect

Personal hygiene before and after testing will remain a high priority for both employees and test administrators. Additional disinfection practices will be required for both individuals and testing equipment for months and possibly years to come.

Starting with the transducers and using non-alcohol-based wipes (alcohol will break down foam that, over time, will impact ambient noise attenuation of transducers). Exposed testing surfaces will need to be disinfected. When cleaning transducers, it is important to ensure that liquid is kept away from the center of the headphones, as this could cause damage to internal components.

For an array of disinfection options, Oaktree Products stocks a good number of products that could be useful for your hearing testing activities.

An effective option for avoiding transducer contamination is single-use, disposable earphone covers. These help to prevent contact between the earpiece and the skin.

To clean the iPad, start by unplugging all cables and ensuring the tablet is turned completely off. You can find updated guidelines for cleaning the iPad from Apple here. They approve the use of a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox® disinfecting wipes. As always, you should handle the iPad with care and gently wipe all surfaces before and after each test to keep the equipment clean and disinfected.

The same is true for any accessories, including carry cases, stands, or kiosks. Clorox or Lysol® Disinfecting wipes are effective in removing contaminants from these surfaces.

In summary, mobile tablet-based testing systems are easy to disinfect between uses, much easier than having to disinfect a sound booth. Their portability, ease of use, and automated testing interface make it possible to administer a clinically validated hearing test while maintaining adequate physical distancing between the test administrator and the employee.

This guide is intended to be a useful tool on your journey to in-house mobile hearing testing or adding iPad-based testing to your services business. This is the final chapter of the eBook! However, if you would like to download the complete guide, complete the form below.

Feel free to share this with colleagues, peers, or others who would benefit from learning more about how to optimize your Hearing Conservation Program with innovative employee-focused testing and follow-up.