Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Do You Have A Noise Problem At Work?

This will depend on how loud the noise is and how long people are exposed to it. As a simple guide you will probably need to do something about the noise if any of the following apply:

  • Is the noise intrusive - like a busy street, a vacuum cleaner or a crowded restaurant - for most of the working day?
  • Do your employees have to raise their voices to carry out a normal conversation when about 2 m apart for at least part of the day?
  • Do your employees use noisy powered tools or machinery for more than half an hour each day?
  • Do you work in a noisy industry, eg construction, demolition; woodworking; plastics processing; engineering; textile manufacture; forging, pressing or stamping; board making; canning; foundries?
  • Are there noises due to impacts (such as hammering, pneumatic impact tools etc), explosive sources such as cartridge operated tools, or guns?

Noise can also be a safety hazard at work, interfering with communication and making warnings harder to hear.

The health effects of noise at work

Noise at work can cause hearing loss that can be temporary or permanent. People often experience temporary deafness after leaving a noisy place. Although hearing recovers within a few hours, this should not be ignored. It is a sign that if you continue to be exposed to the noise your hearing could be permanently damaged. Permanent hearing damage can be caused immediately by sudden, extremely loud, explosive noises, eg from guns or cartridge-operated machines.

But hearing loss is usually gradual because of prolonged exposure to noise. It may only be when damage caused by noise over the years combines with hearing loss due to ageing that people realise how deaf they have become. Eventually everything becomes muffled and people find it difficult to catch sounds like 't', 'd' and 's', so they confuse similar words.

Hearing loss is not the only problem. People may develop tinnitus (ringing, whistling, buzzing or humming in the ears), a distressing condition which can lead to disturbed sleep.


By law, as an employer, you must assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce risks from exposure to noise so that you can protect the hearing of your employees.

Where required, ensure that:

  • hearing protection is provided and used such as ear defenders;
  • any other controls are properly used; and
  • you provide information, training and health surveillance.

A wide array of noise protection is now available from the simple disposable ear plug to electronic ear defenders with intercom and radio features.

At Granite Workwear we have chosen to sell the Peltor range of ear defenders. Peltor offers a huge range of ear protection supplying the military, industry, police etc.

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