Are You at Risk of Damage to Hearing

Are You at Risk of Damage to Hearing

Exposure to high noise levels can cause permanent hearing damage and once your hearing has gone it won't come back. Hearing loss caused by high noise levels within a working environment is preventable though is often without the sufferer being aware of the danger until it is too late. High noise levels may lead to tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or even deafness. It is estimated by the HSE that more than 2 million people in Great Britain are exposed to unacceptable high levels of noise at work. It should be noted that noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common reason for employers' liability insurance claims for occupational health. Exposure to many different sources of noise (such as machinery, powered hand tools, traffic, servers) has a cumulative effect and can cause damage, even if a worker is only exposed to a single source for short periods of time.

As an employer what should I do with regards to High Noise Levels for my staff?

Firstly it is key to find out what levels of noise your workers are exposed to and asses the risk to their hearing via a formal Noise Survey. Once this has been completed you can control the noise exposure by fitting silencers to machinery, changing work patterns, upgrading current machinery / equipment or of course the most straight forward solution is to provide the correct hearing defence. This combined with regular hearing checks for your staff and the correct training should make your workplace a safer place.

Is the onus only on the employer with regards to Hearing Protection?

Not at all. Employees should cooperate with their employer for whatever is requested of them to protect against high noise levels by wearing any ear defence that is supplied within the area prescribed. Once ear defence is deployed it should not be removed by the employee until they reach a safe zone. The employee should also feedback to the employer any issues with the deployed ear defence or if they feel in any danger due to high noise levels.

What ear defence should I provide my staff?

Hearing protection comes in many forms from the very basic roll down plugs to full function communication Headsets. Things are to consider are productivity and the maintaining of such as well as simplicity and effectiveness. Plugs are the most cost effective solution but often inserted into the ear canal incorrectly so the correct protection is never gained. Ear defenders that are either headband or mounted to a helmet are sprung against the ear so protection against high noise levels is more assured. Ear defenders with a built in communications radio means that staff can still operate hands free as a team so productivity is never lost and in most cases is actually improved.

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