The mining industry is a very noisy work environment, especially underground, where rock crushers, drilling equipment, conveyor belts and other types of machinery create incessant background noise. This places mine workers in close proximity to very high ambient noise levels, which could put them at risk of occupational noise-induced hearing loss.
For this reason, medical examinations for workers (including eye, spirometry and hearing tests) have to be carried out at specific intervals, as stipulated by the South African Occupational Health and Safety Act.
In this article, we look at why eMoyo’s Kuduwave portable audiometer is ideal for screening the hearing of mine workers. We chatted to eMoyo’s quality manager John Tidy, and Burgersfort-based industrial audiologist and Kuduwave user Elex Molokomme to get their input on the Kuduwave’s suitability for use in workplace occupational health hearing screening programmes.
First, let’s provide a bit of context as to the hearing test rules in the mining industry.
Testing Mine Workers’ Hearing After Exposure to High Noise Levels
When a mine worker undergoes their first medical examination after starting employment, the South African Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that two baseline hearing tests are carried out, to which all subsequent hearing tests for that worker will be compared.
This baseline hearing test comparison will enable employers to ascertain whether a worker’s hearing has deteriorated due to their subsequent exposure to high noise levels in their workplace environment.
Should hearing loss be detected, a worker will either be sent for treatment, or they will be medically boarded and declared unfit to work. In the last instance, a worker will be able to make a claim against their employer for occupational noise-induced hearing loss.
Why the Kuduwave Portable Audiometer Is Ideal for Accurate Mine Workers’ Hearing Tests
1. It’s Truly Boothless and Highly Portable
The Kuduwave portable audiometer combines the audiometer, extended high-frequency headset and soundbooth in one lightweight device, making it truly boothless.
“The Kuduwave's sound-blocking technology is comparable to the so-called mini sound booth. In fact, its attenuation (sound blocking) levels are higher than those of a mini audiometric sound booth,” says John. “If need be, workers’ hearing could be tested with a Kuduwave in a change-room, or even a boardroom somewhere on the office premises. The Kuduwave makes audiometric testing really easy, quick and convenient.”
The Kuduwave offers users screening, diagnostics, assistive interpretation functions, speech testing, a host of patient management tools, as well as tele-audiology and Cloud storage – all without the need for having to make use of a sound-treated audiometric booth.
“When I was a student, we were using a Kuduwave on an ototoxicity management programme. I loved how portable and user-friendly the device is, that it can be carried around in a case and that it connects to a laptop,” says clinical and industrial audiologist and speech pathologist Elex Molokomme. “When I started my own practice, I didn't want to have to sit around and wait for patients to come to me. Sound booths are also extremely expensive, so it made more sense to me to take my audiology services to those who need it, instead. This is a really great advantage to having a Kuduwave. Being mobile, my service offering to patients is just so much bigger.”
“When it comes to the measurement of actual attenuation, the Kuduwave is the only audiometer that measures live ambient noise levels within the testing environment, i.e., at the patient's ear, within the ear cup.”
2. The Kuduwave complies with all applicable standards, including SANS 10083
A common concern among prospective Kuduwave users is the device’s attenuation capabilities, and whether it complies it with SANS 10083, the South African National Standard for the Measurement and Assessment of Occupational Noise for Hearing Conservation Purposes.
“The Kuduwave absolutely complies with SANS 10083,” says John. “eMoyo’s Declaration of Conformity to Occupational Health Standards Specific to Hearing Conservation confirms this. This declaration also describes what type of product the Kuduwave is, its risk classification, as well as all the various standards applied across the UK and EU, the USA, and South Africa in particular. Regarding attenuation, the Kuduwave displays live ambient noise levels during the hearing test, and these measurements are saved to the audiogram.”
Still want to know more? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page to read the answers to some commonly asked questions about the Kuduwave portable audiometer.
3. The Kuduwave is a highly accurate, clinically validated and FDA-listed audiological instrument
Kuduwave audiometers are ISO 13485 certified and FDA listed, and compliant with all ANSI, IEC and SANS standards for audiometry, tympanometry, and calibration.
The Kuduwave’s testing quality is enhanced by replacing traditional analogue audiometric components with reliable, highly accurate digital components. This includes the technology to objectively verify the device’s calibration, further assuring quality control – and the reliability of Kuduwave test results.
“I’m very confident that I can trust my Kuduwave’s test results,” says Elex. “Thus far I’ve not had reason to question its results. Of course, a controlled testing environment that’s as quiet as possible is very important.”
The Kuduwave has been the subject of several published studies as well as research reports, all bearing testimony to the device’s efficiency and accuracy. What’s more, eMoyo’s Kuduwave portable audiometers are supported by a three-year repair-or-replace warranty, with the option of taking out an extended warranty for an additional two years.
4. Telemedicine capability makes the Kuduwave portable audiometer completely location independent
All Kuduwave models feature telemedicine (also referred to as tele-audiology) functionality. This enables users to work with distributed teams in real time, as well as evaluate patient results from any location around the globe.
This means that the Kuduwave portable audiometer could be used to test a patient’s hearing between towns, cities, provinces, countries and even continents. In fact, a transatlantic hearing test between Johannesburg and Bangalore was carried out with great success early in 2022, proving just how effective the Kuduwave’s tele-audiology functionality can be.
“Using a Kuduwave, you could have a qualified audiologist stationed at a central location, then have a team of occupational health nurses or audiometrists going around to various sites testing workers,” says John. “Should the medical professionals encounter a problem or want to do further diagnostic testing on an individual, it's a simple case of using telemedicine, where a doctor or specialist dials in to run additional, more advanced hearing tests remotely.”
Want to learn more about the Kuduwave’s telemedicine capabilities? Read this published study: “Intercontinental Hearing Assessment – A Study in Tele-Audiology”. The study evaluated the validity of remote pure-tone audiometric testing using the Kuduwave audiometer.
5. There are Kuduwave models specifically designed for testing hearing in the workplace
Both the Kuduwave OH (available in SA only) and Kuduwave Prime are lightweight yet robust and fully booth-free audiometric devices. Both models are highly accurate, portable screening audiometers designed especially for on-site hearing screening in the workplace, on-site, or on location.
“Our Kuduwave OH and Kuduwave Prime models were specifically designed for rapid workplace hearing screening, and built to withstand knocks, drops and other workplace accidents” says John.
“One Kuduwave user, an industrial audiologist specialising in occupational health started out using a traditional soundbooth, but she bought a Kuduwave fairly soon after. She kept her soundbooth and her old audiometer, just to prove to sceptics that the portable Kuduwave is a superior audiometer.”
6. The Kuduwave features automated testing capability, assistive interpretation functionality & more
The Kuduwave is powered by eMoyo-EMR software, featuring a user interface that allows for both manual and automatic testing, as well as patient conditioning. Through eMoyo-EMR, testing protocols can further be customised through the use of custom macros.
“The Kuduwave’s automated testing function makes it ideal for workplace screening,” says John. “There’s even a specific occupational health test regime that sets the baseline and double baseline tests for individual patients. It really is incredibly simple to use.”
eMoyo-EMR software also enables the Kuduwave’s assistive interpretation functionality. Assistive interpretation assists users with the interpretation of audiometric results, allowing them to automatically calculate interpretations for pure-tone audiometry, PLH interpretation, tympanometry automatic classification as well as ototoxicity monitoring.
7. The Kuduwave offers a patient management system and stores data safely in the Cloud
Kuduwave users can synchronise their patient data as well as view test results from remote locations using Cloud-based applications such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive.
“If an employer has to screen the hearing of a large number of employees, it just makes sense for each of them to have their own folder with all their previous test results together in one place,” says John.
“We have clients, massive organisations, and they test everybody, from head office staff to all plant workers, using a Kuduwave portable audiometer. With that amount of data, you need a system that keeps everything well organised.”
Kuduwave users further enjoy total peace of mind in the knowledge that their fully encrypted patient data, test results, clinical notes and more are backed up to hard drive, as well as the Cloud. In the Cloud, their data is stored on secure web servers. This means that, making use of eMoyo-EMR audiometry software, Kuduwave users’ patient data is safe and secure, forever.
A seamless switch between patient data capturing and testing protocols
“We’ve only had positive feedback from audiologists using their Kuduwave devices in occupational health settings, such as mines and other noisy workplace environments,” says John.
User-friendly, intuitive and telemedicine enabled, the Kuduwave’s state-of-the-art eMoyo-EMR audiometry software has revolutionised the manner in which audiologists, hearing healthcare professionals and clinicians work. Apart from an automated user interface, remote access, seamless continuity, and enhanced security and data capture, the Kuduwave’s eMoyo-EMR software also empowers users to work with enhanced speed and productivity.
Kuduwave users can seamlessly switch between patient data capturing and testing protocols, make use of built-in patient records management and data capture functionality to easily capture unlimited patient information and keep patient data organised in a simple, folder-based structure while making use of patient search-and-find functionality.
8. Enhancing patient comfort, the Kuduwave portable audiometer also minimises the risk of cross contamination
Tele-audiology enabled and completely location-independent, the Kuduwave can even be used to conduct testing outside, in the open air. This makes it a much safer option for testing patients’ hearing than the stationary audiometric booth (soundbooth) with its many surfaces that can be potential sources of cross-contamination.
“Using a Kuduwave, patients or employees don’t have to go into a soundbooth to have their hearing tested,” says John. “In such instances, the risk of cross-contamination is massively reduced, as testing with a Kuduwave in the open air increases both the patient and the practitioner’s safety.”
“After testing mining employees with my Kuduwave, the majority of feedback I get is extremely positive,” says Elex. “They tell me that they don’t like the soundbooth, that it is very hot inside, that they fall asleep in there. Also, individuals who work in mines are fearful of failing their hearing tests, because it threatens their employment, their livelihood. Using a Kuduwave creates a far more reassuring testing environment for them.”
“As humans, we can be slow to adopt change. We prefer to stick to what we know. This is where education comes in. Employers need to be educated as to the benefits and advantages of taking the leap from the stationary soundbooth to the all-in-one, location-independent Kuduwave portable audiometer.”
The Kuduwave Portable Audiometer: A True Med-tech Disruptor
As a bona fide med-tech disruptor, the revolutionary Kuduwave has faced many obstacles, including much industry misinformation and competitor smear campaigns.
With NASA choosing the Kuduwave portable audiometer out of many other contenders to be used for testing the hearing of astronauts aboard the ISS (another extremely noisy workplace environment!) it’s no wonder that governments around the world are realising the incredible potential of this revolutionary piece of medical technology.
Lightweight, highly portable and truly boothless, the telemedicine-enabled, location-independent Kuduwave is ideal for use in remote locations, including on-site in occupational health settings, such as hearing conservation programmes at mines.
Learn More and Book Your Free Kuduwave Demo
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