Noise and hearing difficulties at work

Trevor Davis from Qdos

Every employer has a duty to protect employees and others who may be exposed to noise generated as a result of his work activities and should be working on measures to reduce the risk. The law “Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005” says that an employer has to find out what levels of noise individuals are exposed to and assess the risk to their hearing.

Symptoms and early signs of hearing loss

  • Conversation becomes difficult or impossible
  • An individual’s  family complains about the television being too loud
  • You have trouble using the telephone
  • You find it difficult to catch sounds like 't', 'd' and 's', so you confuse similar words

Permanent tinnitus (ringing, whistling, buzzing or humming in the ears) can also be caused.

One can also suffer instant damage from very loud or explosive noises.

Generally hearing loss is gradual. By the time you notice it, it is probably too late.

Everyone should want to prevent hearing loss before it happens.

Every employer has a duty to protect employees and others who may be exposed to noise generated as a result of his work activities and should be working on measures to reduce the risk. The law “Control of Noise at Work
Regulations 2005” says that an employer has to find out what levels of noise individuals are exposed to and assess the risk to their hearing.

Particular industries and jobs most likely to produce intrusive, potentially damaging noise include:

  • Construction
  • Demolition or road repair
  • Woodworking
  • Plastics processing
  • Engineering
  • Textile manufacture
  • General fabrication
  • Forging, pressing or stamping
  • Paper or board making
  • General industrial food processing, mixing, mincing, canning or bottling etc.
  • Foundries

Employers should be taking measures to minimise and control where possible noise at source such as:

  • Ensuring all tools and noise generating processes equipment are serviced and maintained to manufacturer’s standards and specification. 

Employees should make sure to use properly any noise control devices (eg noise enclosures), and follow any working methods that are put in place, wear appropriate hearing protection provided, wear it properly (you should be trained how to do this), and make sure you wear it all the time when you are doing noisy work, and when you are in hearing protection areas. Taking it off even for a short while means that your hearing could still be damaged. Remember that there is no cure for deafness.

HSE's leaflet - Noise at Work: guidance for employers INDG – 362 advises on good practice and what can be done to minimize the risks and inherent dangers to hearing for anyone exposed to noise from work activities.

‘Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0’.

Share this

Gold Patrons