Research on noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) shows around a fifth of the British working population could be exposed to high noise levels while doing their job.
HSE’s noise expert Chris Steel said: “If you are shouting at work and can’t be heard from two metres away, the chances are there’s a noise issue. Try it out for yourself and see if you can be heard.
“But there needs to be a balance. While too little noise reduction could cause hearing damage, too much could isolate the worker and lead to accidents.”
The Workplace Health Expert Committee (WHEC) report says about 20% of the working population in Great Britain could be exposed to high noise levels (>85 dBA).
HSE has important guidance in relation to noise at work although evidence suggests new cases of occupational deafness is in decline.
“Although hearing recovers within a few hours, this should not be ignored. It is a sign that if they continue to be exposed to the noise, without an adequate break, their hearing could be permanently damaged. The same applies to noise in a workplace.
Bosses must assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce risks from exposure to noise so that they can protect the hearing of their workers.
C = Condition; is the hearing protection in good condition?
F = Fit; does the hearing protection fit the wearer?
The full WHEC report on occupational noise is available.