World hearing day

Did you know some 17,000 people in the UK suffer deafness, ringing in the ears or other ear conditions caused by excessive noise at work

Exposure to excessive noise can cause loss of hearing or result in conditions like tinnitus which is a permanent ringing in the ears – these can be avoided by adhering to noise regulations which aim to protect your people and regular testing to monitor their hearing health.

About 30% of people will experience tinnitus at some point in their lives, and the number of people who live with persistent tinnitus is approximately 13%.

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005

Employer responsibilities

The regulations apply to all industries across the UK. As an employer, the regulations stipulate that you are responsible for mandatory hearing protection and providing hearing protection zones when noise levels exceed 85 decibels. The level at which you must assess the risk to workers' health and provide them with information and training is 80 decibels, at which point hearing protection is at least advised.

But what about personal responsibility?

Here’s some tips on what we can all do to help protect our hearing, at home and at work:

  • Turn down the volume of the television, radio or music
  • Instead of turning up the volume, use headphones that block out more outside noise
  • Wear ear protection when working in a noisy environment like a garage workshop or a building site - special vented earplugs that allow in some noise are also available for musicians
  • Never, ever insert objects into yours or your children's ears – these include fingers, cotton buds, cotton wool and tissue – if you’re concerned about wax build up in your ears, the NHS recommends using 2 – 3 drops of olive oil in your ear twice a day for a few days.

Last year, RPS' Occupational Hygiene team completed 39 surveys for both workplace and environmental noise to our clients, across a range of industries and sectors including manufacturing, aerospace and recycling. The workplace noise surveys consist of personal dosimetry to assess exposure to noise and area spot measurements to identify significant noise sources. The data collected showed a range of different noise levels from each survey, highlighting an increased risk of developing work related noise induced hearing loss.

Gaining this information could be vital in protecting your colleagues both in the work place and for their long term health.

If you’re unsure or concerned about the noise levels inside your workplace, RPS can carry out a workplace noise survey assessment. Or, if the concern relates to noise outside or around your workplace, we can deliver an environmental noise survey. Based on our findings we make recommendations to employers to mitigate the noise and the potential impact to their people.

It can also be helpful to understand the current condition of your employees hearing – to determine an initial baseline which can then be reviewed yearly to ensure any mitigation practices in place are being effective – and to make this easy, we have a fleet of mobile clinics equipped with audiometry booths where our Occupational Health team can undertake assessments for employees.

Contact our experts

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Ben Massey

Business Development - Occupational Health & Hygiene T: +44 (0) 1235 437 100 Email
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Milton Keynes | UK

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