With the WHS Act 2011 now in its 7th year of operation SafeWork NSW has decided to exempt employers from the audiometric testing requirements of the WHS legislation.
Audiometric Testing requirements were recommended by safety and medical experts prior to the harmonised laws being formulated in 2009-10. It allows for appropriate testing when there is a requirement to wear hearing protection. After considerable lobbying from industry, in much the same way as Chicken Little said the sky was going to fall in, the NSW Government has issued this exemption since the commencement of the WHS legislation. Submissions to SafeWork Australia could be paraphrased as it is a regulatory burden to business and that business needed time to adjust to this requirement. Considering the Productivity Commission and Safe Work Australia estimate 5% of the cost of workplace injuries is born by the employer, with 75% born by the worker, and the poor support provided by the workers compensation system particularly for deafness claims, we must do more to prevent workplace injuries including deafness claims.
PSA/CPSU NSW members work in a number of occupations where industrial deafness is a hazard of the workplace and would rather greater prevention and monitoring is conducted to prevent the limitations to life enjoyment from the onset of industrial deafness affecting workers and their families.
The following is the message from SafeWork NSW issued in December extending the exemption.
I am writing to inform you of a further exemption order will be granted on Friday 22 December regarding audiometric testing (Clause 58(2) of the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulation) for the 12 month period: 1 January 2018 – 31 December 2018.
The Exemption Order exempts all persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) in NSW from having to comply with Clause 58(2) of the WHS Regulation. This means PCBUs are not required by law to provide audiometric testing for workers who are frequently required to use hearing personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect them from the risk of hearing loss caused by exposure to hazardous noise.
PCBUs must understand that the granting of this exemption does not lessen their legislative duties to control hazardous noise. There are strong requirements for managing noise within the WHS legislation to protect workers from exposure to noise at levels resulting in hearing loss:
View the below resources on the SafeWork NSW website for more information about how to manage noise in the workplace.
If you have any questions please contact SafeWork NSW on 13 10 50.