We often take the ability to hear for granted and only notice problems with hearing after many years of damage. In this article, QSC’s Adam Willis looks at how workplace noise can contribute to hearing loss, and asks what measures can be taken to minimise the risk.
“In the latest statistics, there are more than 10 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss, and this figure is estimated to rise to 14.5 million by the year 2031.
One contributor to hearing loss is prolonged exposure to loud noise in the workplace. Unfortunately, for many employees it can take years before any degeneration in hearing is identified, at which point it can be difficult to regain a good standard of hearing.
It’s vital to be able to act early, to establish if the noise in your workplace is a risk to your hearing. You may be at risk of hearing loss if, during your working day, you:
- Have to raise your voice to be heard by colleagues standing approximately 2 metres away
- Operate noise machinery or tools for more than 30 minutes per day
- Work within a heavy industrial, construction or demolition environment with prolonged exposure to noise
For more risk factors to hearing loss view the HSE’s Don’t lose your hearing leaflet
To help assess the level of noise in your workplace, the HSE has developed noise exposure calculators which work out your daily noise exposure, weekly noise exposures, and estimate the performance of hearing protection.
If there is a noise problem, there are a number of measures your employer can put in place to minimise the risk. For example, it may be possible to use screens, absorbent materials, quieter equipment or a different process, or limit your time in noisy areas.
It is then vital you support any noise reduction measures your employer implements. This could be by ensuring you correctly wear hearing protection at all times, attending hearing checks or reporting any problems with noise-control devices.
If you have concerns about noise levels in your workplace talk to your employer and you can also visit the HSE website for more information
We often take for granted the ability to hear, but hearing loss has such an impact on everyday life. Don’t expose your hearing unnecessary.”
QSC Health & Safety Manager