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 problems are that many employers will not look beyond providing PPE (hearing protection) and many employees won’t consistently wear what they are provided with.
We have said in the past that just providing PPE is not in compliance with the Noise at Work Regulations; or what the HSE would expect from a business.
To start with any business where loud noises are created must properly understand what the noise levels are, where they are coming from and who is likely to be 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 we have seen many times before).
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 for many years have been clear they do not accept hearing protection as a long term fix. Each business must look to identify where it can perhaps reduce its noise at source or reduce the exposure time of employees for example.
Importantly there is a 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 and by then the long term damage has been done and is irreversible.
Unfortunately failure of businesses 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 something people will want to experience.
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. Additionally if the HSE are involved there could be a possible prosecution.
If you have a noisy workplace; then why not seek professional assistance rather than wait for a claim to be made?