04 August 2015
The Risks of Workplace Noise and How to Protect Yourself
Noise surrounds us every day, no matter of what line of work you’re in. Even the strictest of librarians will be subjected to the noise of traffic once outside their silent domain, and may suffer the racket of neighbours’ TVs through their wall back home. But when it comes to your workplace, your employer is responsible for making sure you’re protected from noise that could irreparably damage your hearing.
Under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations, 2005, employers are responsible for ensuring occupational noise does not damage the hearing of their staff. Prolonged and repetitive exposure to loud noise can permanently affect your hearing. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) affects people of all ages, so no matter how old you are, if you are working in a noisy environment, knowing the risks and how to protect yourself could keep the volume turned up in the long run.
What Are the Risks?
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 is in place to ensure you are protected by law from prolonged exposure to loud noise. Employers are required to take action if noise exposure reaches 80 decibels.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, if you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions about noise where you work, you may be at risk:
- Is the noise intrusive for most of the day?
- Is it loud enough that you need to raise your voice to speak when about 2m apart from a person?
- Do you use noisy powered tools or machinery for over half an hour a day?
- Do you work in a noisy industry, e.g. construction, demolition or road repair; woodworking; plastics processing; engineering; textile manufacture; general fabrication; forging, pressing or stamping; paper or board making; canning or bottling; foundries?
- Do you have muffled hearing or ringing in your ears at the end of the working day?
Protecting Yourself From Loud Noise at Work
To protect yourself and your co-workers from damaging noise levels at work, you should begin by being vigilant and taking responsibility for your own hearing. If noise control devices are available, and if protection has been provided, use them. If noise levels are too loud, or precautions have not yet been put in place to protect you and your fellow workers, report it to your employer.
As with any work that could potentially cause you harm, your employer is required to provide you with protective equipment to counter the risk; in this case, noise-cancelling protection for your ears should be worn if working with loud machinery and, if in doubt, consult your employer.
Slater and Gordon Senior Personal Injury Solicitor, Madelene Holdsworth, commented, “The law says that from 1963 there has been a good enough understanding of the potential effects of excessive noise on a person’s hearing that employers should have taken steps from that time to limit exposure to noise in the workplace. Many people now suffer with hearing loss because employers failed to meet their workplace obligation to take reasonable steps to safeguard the health and safety of their workforces. The simple and inexpensive step of providing adequate ear protection would in most cases have reduced the noise levels experienced by workers to acceptable levels. Many employers failed in this duty, leaving thousands of people today with significantly worse hearing than otherwise should have been the case.”
Slater and Gordon Lawyers are experts in cases of Industrial Deafness and deal with all types of industrial deafness claims including noise-induced hearing loss, Tinnitus and Acoustic Shock compensation.
Our specialist team of Occupational Deafness Solicitors can give you free initial advice to help you understand if you have an industrial deafness claim. We may also be able to help you bring a claim if your employer has gone out of business or claim against multiple employers.
If your hearing has been damaged by exposure to excessive noise at work, call our Personal Injury Solicitors for a free consultation on freephone 0800 916 9046 or start a hearing loss claim online.