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Safe from sound: how to protect workers against hearing loss

Increasing levels of noise in everyday and working environments has led to a silent epidemic of hearing loss. Over one million British employees are exposed to levels of noise which put their hearing at risk, according to the Health and Safety Executive, hearing loss at work is becoming a hot topic for insurance claims, which are set to increase dramatically in the coming years.

Industries seeing some of the biggest incidences of hearing-related problems are extraction, energy and water supply, manufacturing and construction. Likewise, many of those in the transportation sector, such as those working airside at airports, are also affected.

Preventing work-related hearing loss

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (the Noise Regulations) are in force to protect workers’ hearing from excessive noise in the workplace, with the onus on health and safety professionals to raise awareness of the risks of exposure to high levels of noise and enforce the use of personal protective equipment.

Employers must assess the risks to employees, take measures to reduce the noise exposure and, where noise levels cannot be reduced, provide adequate effective hearing protection, such as noise-cancelling earphones and ear muffs, ear plugs or headsets.

The rules concerning noise levels

There are clear rules governing exposure to noise. If there is a daily or weekly exposure of 80 dB and over, the employer must give information on the risk and provide ear protectors, which should be kept in good working order.

If the daily noise level reaches 85dB, ear protection must not only be provided, but its wearing enforced and areas where ear protection is compulsory clearly marked.

The maximum level of noise that cannot be exceeded is a daily or weekly exposure to 87 dB with a maximum peak sound pressure of 140 dB (taking into account any reduction in exposure provided by hearing protection).

Taking action on noise

With Noise Action Week taking place this week, encouraging us all to Turn It Down, the focus is on prevention and protection to our hearing. With over 20 years’ experience of providing quality safety solutions, Contego offers a broad range of hearing protection products, including sound analysers, attachable, helmet-mounted, headband, neckband and AM/FM earmuffs, disposable, corded, banded earplugs and dispenders, and custom-fit earplugs, including non-allergenic personal earplugs and SonoLab Self-FitTM Hearing Protectors.

Find out more about Contego’s hearing protection and full product range, our in-house embroidery service and exceptional customer care by downloading the Contego Catalogue and contacting our friendly team on 0800 122 3323 or sales@contegosafety.co.uk.