ON-SITE NOISE ASSESSMENTS AND HEARING PROTECTION

Many workers in the UK are exposed to noise levels which may be harmful to their hearing.  According to the HSE, over one million employees in Great Britain are exposed to levels of noise which put their hearing at risk. 

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is one of the most prevalent, but often ignored, risks in the workplace and employees must, by law, be protected. Once noise-induced hearing loss has taken place, it is irreversible. Currently,  1 in 7 of the UK population are either deaf or hard of hearing.

Employers must comply with their legal duties as detailed in the ‘The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005’. These regulations, driven by a European Directive in a long term attempt to eliminate noise-induced hearing loss in the workplace  reduced the previous acceptable levels, alongside introducing legal daily  limits  for noise exposure. 

Noise can be an issue in many common job types, some particularly high risk environments include building sites, airport aprons, workshops and nightclubs.

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Noise at work can cause hearing loss that can be temporary or permanent. People often experience temporary deafness after leaving a noisy place. Although hearing recovers within a few hours, this should not be ignored. It is a sign that if you continue to be exposed to the noise your hearing could be permanently damaged. Permanent hearing damage can be caused immediately by sudden, extremely loud, explosive noises, eg from guns or cartridge-operated machines.

But hearing loss is usually gradual because of prolonged exposure to noise. It may only be when damage caused by noise over the years combines with hearing loss due to ageing that people realise how deaf they have become. This may mean their family complains about the television being too loud, they cannot keep up with conversations in a group, or they have trouble using the telephone. Eventually everything becomes muffled and people find it difficult to catch sounds like 't', 'd' and 's', so they confuse similar words.  Remember: Young people can be damaged as easily as the old.

WHEN SHOULD A NOISE ASSESSMENT BE CONDUCTED?


Covering all industries; the legislation requires any employer who intends to perform work that will likely expose the workforce to excessive noise, to complete a risk assessment that outlines how this will affect health and safety. It must also identify the necessary measures that will be taken to ensure noise levels meet the requirements of the regulations. Employers must provide hearing protection and also hearing protection zones if the noise level is 85 decibels or above.


The level at which risk assessments must take place is 80 decibels. Workers must not be exposed to noise levels greater than 87 decibels; taking into consideration the reduction provided by hearing protection. Workers must also have regular hearing tests if they are regularly exposed to sound levels greater than 85 decibels. If you have identified any noisy activities that may expose your workers or other people at your workplace to hazardous noise then, unless you can reduce the exposures to below the standard immediately, you should assess the risks by carrying out a noise assessment.


A NOISE ASSESSMENT WILL HELP YOU:


- Identify which workers are at risk of hearing loss
- Determine what noise sources and processes are causing that risk
- Identify if and what kind of noise control measures could be implemented
- Check the effectiveness of existing control measures.


A noise assessment may not always need a measurement. For example, if only one activity at the workplace – the use of a single machine – involves noise above 85 dB(A) and the manufacturer has provided information about the machine’s noise levels when it is operated in particular ways, then a sufficient assessment can be made without measurement.

More complex situations require measurement to accurately determine a worker’s exposure to noise, such as workplaces with variable noise levels over a shift and jobs where workers move in and out of noisy areas. Call the team at Eurox or complete a booking enquiry to find out how we can help.

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WHO CAN PERFORM THE ASSESSMENT?

A noise assessment should be done by a competent person. The more complex the situation, the more knowledgeable and experienced the person needs to be. A competent person is one who has accurately calibrated noise measuring instruments and, through training and experience:


  • Understands what is required by The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005

  • Knows how to check the performance of the instruments

  • Knows how to take the measurements properly

  • Can interpret the results of the noise measurements

  • What information should be included in a noise assessment report?


EUROX  has qualified risk assessors able to attend your site to provide a risk assessment and help you keep your employees hearing safe. Our assessment reports will enable you select appropriate control measures to ensure noise is kept to an acceptable level. 

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

HSE NOISE POCKET CARD

This revised pocket card tells employees what they need to do to protect their hearing and what they can expect from their employers if noise is a problem in their workplace.  

HSE NOISE AT WORK

This leaflet expands on the above information outlining  what you need to do under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (the Noise Regulations) and how you can protect your employees from noise.

HSE SOUND ADVICE

Containing practical guidance on the control of noise in places like concert halls, theatres, amplified live music venues, pubs/clubs and studios.

HEARING LOSS SIMULATION



 
 
 

Noise induced hearing loss is irreversible damage to the ears caused by exposure to high levels of noise. These recordings demonstrate how hearing is gradually lost over a working life. In the demonstrations you will hear the effects of both noise exposure and ageing on hearing.


The demonstrations rely on comparing how loud the different sections of the recordings sound to you, so it is important do not adjust the volume after starting to listen to the demonstration. You will need to start off with the volume in the first section of the recording set reasonably high, otherwise you will not be able to hear some of the later simulations. The best results are achieved by setting the volume level so that the hearing loss demonstration at age 65 can be just about heard.


The audio files have been tested using in-ear headphones, over ear headphones, and loud speakers. The best results are obtained when used with a reproduction system that delivers a good frequency range. For this reason, built-in speakers on devices such as laptops and mobile phone/mp3 players may not give effective demonstrations.

``Demonstration provided by the HSE republished under Crown Copyright Licence version 3