Workplace noise


Workplace noise

Excessive noise at work can lead to hearing damage.

 The 2008/9 Labour Force Survey shows an estimated 17000 workers who believed they had suffered hearing damage at work. Symptoms include deafness and ringing in the ears. Conditions such as these are normally progressive due to continued exposure to excessive noise levels.

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 require employers to control the level of noise workers may be exposed to, and in certain situations provide suitable hearing protection for them. Workers who are regularly exposed to noise above 85 decibels must be given hearing tests as part of routine health surveillance measures.

If your business involves the use of noisy powered tools or machinery, guns, cartridge operated tools, or amplified music then you will need to carry out an assessment to determine noise levels and workers' exposure to the noise. In some cases, you may need to employ a specialist to carry out this assessment.

If there is exposure to excessive noise above levels specified in the Regulations then the risk must be eliminated or reduced to a safe level by:

  • Using alternative processes that are quieter, such as reducing metal on metal impacts, reducing vibration, fitting silencers to exhaust, substituting high powered speakers with low powered ones, strategically placed
  • Using quieter methods, equipment or machinery - barriers to reduce the flow or escape of noise, sound insulation, placing noisy processes in separate rooms
  • Reducing the time workers are exposed

Where these solutions do not resolve the risk then suitable hearing protection, such as ear defenders and plugs, should be provided.

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