Technicians wearing protective face masks and hearing protection waiting for their boothless hearing test

Ensuring Employee Safety in Your Occupational Hearing Testing Program

Hearing Conservation

Is now the time to finally bring your workplace hearing testing program in-house?

We received a call the other day from a manufacturing company. Like so many others, they postponed their hearing testing program at the beginning of the pandemic. Good for them. As Health and Safety Managers, they had higher priority items to worry about. Namely, ensuring a risk-free environment for their employees.

But as their state slowly opens up, they are anxious to start testing again. It has been more than six months, and they want to be sure they have a plan in place to get their program back to compliance.

They reached out to their audiological service provider and asked when they were available to come onsite. They learned not for several more months.

As you might imagine, service providers are booking up fast. They have a healthy backlog of postponed clients who are waiting to get back into the queue. Those who hadn’t already scheduled their annual testing when the state went into lockdown might be waiting even longer.

Also, consider the new reality of physical distancing. Service providers can’t test as many people in their mobile clinics as they could pre-pandemic. They need to stagger booth space. Plus, they must clean, disinfect, and ventilate between each employee.

This requires that they stay longer at each client location. Which further reduces their availability to move on to the next. It also means they must charge more for the extra time and cleaning service provided.

Although the manufacturing company is ready to get its program back in compliance, safety remains a high priority. Many of their employees had already voiced concerns about entering the mobile clinic. They found the space small and cramped and questioned how easy it would be to keep it clean.

The manufacturer had felt for a while that it was time to do things differently. But they had put off doing the research. They finally decided to see what other options exist.

They discovered that it would be possible for them to manage their hearing testing program in-house. Modern test equipment is tablet-based, easy to use, automated, and highly portable. And that data management solutions can be fully digital (no more paper records!). They also learned that the best solutions come with all the needed services.

SHOEBOX Puretest is one of those solutions. The test equipment meets the OSHA requirements of an ANSI-compliant audiometer. It ships with calibrated headphones and a Class 2 external microphone for conducting pre-test room scans. Its background noise monitoring feature ensures that ambient noise remains within appropriate levels.

SHOEBOX also promotes ‘contactless’ testing. The test itself is automated so that it can be self-administered by the employee. The Health and Safety Manager can stand at a safe distance of six feet away to provide training and instruction. It is optimized for use outside of a sound booth. The iPad and headphones are very easy to wipe down and disinfect after each use.

SHOEBOX is helping businesses of all sizes reduce their reliance on mobile clinics.

The manufacturing company told us that they might decide to go back to outsourcing their testing program one day. But that doesn’t mean they won’t continue to find utility in SHOEBOX Audiometry.

Even if the service provider returns one day, they know that some employees will always miss their scheduled test. And there will always be those in need of a retest. Having a SHOEBOX system will let them handle these individuals in-house. They won’t need to be sent to the local audiology clinic, which will save them more money.

But this is what we think. Once they get started with SHOEBOX, they will find the cost of their program is greatly reduced. They will gain confidence in the overall compliance of their program. And they are going to be able to deliver a much better — and safer — employee experience.

We’ve helped hundreds of customers bring their occupational hearing testing programs in-house. We’re looking forward to helping this manufacturer do the same, and we’re confident they won’t turn back.