Tinnitus Awareness: Protecting Workers’ Hearing

Leave a Comment
Archives for Alex Perris

Tinnitus Awareness: Protecting Workers’ Hearing

The dangers of excessive noise
Excessive noise in the workplace can cause various Health & Safety problems and ill health in the workplace if it’s not properly managed. It can lead to conditions such as temporary hearing damage and permanent hearing damage/deafness. This can be caused by exposure to loud noises over some time or by sudden extreme noise levels.

One of the potential outcomes of hearing damage is Tinnitus. Indicators that someone is suffering from tinnitus can include hearing:
• ringing
• buzzing
• whooshing
• humming
• hissing
• throbbing
• music or singing

The sufferer may hear these sounds in one, or both ears, or even in their head. The sounds may be continuous or may come and go.

Tinnitus can be distressing to the sufferer and in some cases can lead to problems such as lack of sleep and mental health issues.

What other hazards are caused by high workplace noise?
Excessive noise can cause issues with communication among workers and can make warnings and alarms harder to hear. It can also reduce a person’s awareness of their surroundings. These additional factors can lead to safety risks which may place workers and others at risk of injury or death.

It’s important to note that young people’s hearing can be damaged just as easily as older workers, so controls need to be put in place for everyone, regardless of age.

How can we protect workers from excessive noise levels?
Under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, employers have a legal duty to assess the risks of noise in the workplace. They must take action to control the hazard, by prevention or noise reduction, so that the effects of noise within the workplace are properly managed.

The Regulations define ‘exposure action values’ – levels of noise exposure which, if exceeded, require employers to take specific action. There are ‘lower’ and ‘upper’ action values.

  • Lower exposure action value – daily or weekly personal noise exposure (LEP,d or LEP,w) of 80dB.
  • Upper exposure action value – daily or weekly personal noise exposure (LEP,d or LEP,w) of 85dB
  • Peak sound pressure – these very loud ‘impact noise’ levels can be more damaging than the daily / weekly noise exposures and present a risk of immediate and permanent hearing loss. The lower and upper action values for these are 135 and 137 dB (LCpeak) respectively. Damage caused by them will be in addition to any damage resulting from the daily or weekly noise level a person is exposed to.

Where your employees are likely to be exposed at or above the upper exposure action value, you must take action to reduce noise exposure with a planned programme of noise control.

How to control noise:
If excessive noise (exceeding 85Dba) is likely to be a problem in your business conducting a formal noise assessment will provide accurate levels of noise in your workplace along with an action plan with appropriate control measures. Likely control measures are:
• Providing regular health screening/health surveillance
• Providing information, instruction and training
• Providing hearing protection
• Providing engineering noise reduction measures
• Task rotation
• Removing damaged or defective equipment
• Routine maintenance of machinery would help reduce noise levels of equipment.
• During the procurement phase, manufacturer’s noise output levels should be considered.
• Layout designs could be implemented to create quiet workstations
• Mandatory hearing protection zones could be implemented with signage displayed etc.

Stress Checklist

Leave a Comment
Archives for Alex Perris

Stress Checklist

Download our handy checklist on stress and the considerations your business can take into account to reduce your employees feeling stressed in the workplace.

NOTE! This template is designed to be used within your workplace to help you identify what arrangements you have in place to manage stress within your workplace / activities presently and assist you in identifying any additional items which may be required to carry out tasks safely.

Please tailor this example questionnaire to your own workplace, this list is by no means exhaustive.