Most of us are aware that loud noises are not good for us if we are constantly exposed to high levels, but how many take proper action to ensure we are protected? It’s a problem we find when going into businesses where loud noises are regularly generated.
The problem for many employers is that they think providing access to hearing protection meets their legal obligations. The fact is, it doesn’t.
A key first step is to properly understand what the noise levels are, where they are coming from and who is at risk. To do this requires a noise risk assessment undertaken by a competent person using suitable noise measuring equipment. It’s not something a manager can do using an iPhone app (as I have seen recently).
Once this is completed there needs to be a review of the control measures in place – to determine how effective they are, and a plan to reduce the noise levels employees are exposed to. The HSE are clear they do not accept hearing protection as a long term fix.
Add to this the need to inform the employees of both what the levels are and what risks they are exposed to if they fail to use the controls provided properly. For many they are the last to recognise their hearing is failing.
Failure to follow these simple steps can often lead to employees hearing being damaged after repeated or prolonged exposure. Clearly, losing a vital sense such as our hearing is not a good thing.
For the employer, they face the possibility of receiving a claim for damages and if they can’t clearly show that they have done what is required then it’s almost impossible to defend. So if you have a noisy workplace then why not check to see what you have done rather than wait for a claim to be made?