Hearing Loss Prevention | Environmental, Health and Safety Services | Virginia Tech
Environmental, Health and Safety Services

Audiometric Testing


Audiometric testing is an integral part of the Hearing Loss Prevention Program because it is the only true measure of the program's effectiveness in preventing occupational noise-induced permanent hearing loss. The purpose of the tests will be to identify workers in the early stages of hearing loss and allow intervention before the loss becomes worse.


The EHS Occupational Health Assurance Program (OHAP) provides annual audiometric testing at no cost for employees who are known to work in areas with high-level noise exposures (TWAs of 85 dBA or greater). Audiometric testing will be scheduled by the EHS Medical Services Coordinator with the exposed employee's supervisor. On campus clients have audiograms conducted at EHS and off campus clients have audiograms provided through contracted mobile testing services and/or local medical services providers.

Each employee receives a confidential copy of the audiometric testing results. Audiometric data records will be retained for the duration of employment plus 30 years.


A baseline audiogram is the audiogram against which future audiograms are compared. Baseline audiograms are provided within 6 months (or within 1 year for mobile van testing) of noise exposure. It is crucial for employees to avoid workplace noise 14 hours before the baseline test. Employees also need to avoid high non-occupational noise levels 14 hours before the baseline test. The regulation permits hearing protection to be substituted for avoiding workplace noise. However, hearing protection must be of the appropriate type and properly worn to be effective. Since the new employee has not be formally fitted and trained to use hearing protection use prior to the baseline audiogram, actually avoiding noise exposure is preferred.


At least annually after obtaining the baseline audiogram, those employees enrolled in the HCP will have another audiogram.


Each employee's annual audiogram is compared to that employee's baseline audiogram to determine if the audiogram is valid and if a standard threshold shift has occurred.


The results of audiometric testing will be used to determine if and what type of hearing protection is needed, and if already in use, what further steps must be taken to control an excessive noise exposure problem.

If the annual audiogram shows that an employee has suffered a standard threshold shift, then the employee is retested. If the STS is confirmed, then the audiologist determines if a referral for clinical audiological or otological (ear) examination is recommended. Each employee is notified in writing with 21 days of this determination.

Unless a physician determines that the STS is not work related or aggravated by occupational noise exposure, then the following steps are taken:

    1. Employees not using hearing protectors will be fitted with hearing protectors, trained in their use and care, and required to use them.
    2. Employees already using hearing protectors will be refitted and retrained in the use of hearing protectors and provided with hearing protectors offering greater attenuation if necessary.
    3. The employee will be referred for a clinical audiological evaluation or an otological examination, as appropriate, if additional testing is necessary or if it is suspected that a medical pathology of the ear is caused or aggravated by the wearing of hearing protectors.
    4. The employee is informed of the need for an otological examination if a medical pathology of the ear that is unrelated to the use of hearing protectors is suspected.