Control of Noise at Work
Noise at work can cause hearing damage that is permanent, incurable and damaging. Research estimates that over 2 million people are exposed to noise levels at work that may be harmful.
Hearing loss can be gradual because of exposure to noise over time, but can also be caused immediately by sudden, extremely loud noises. The damage is disabling as it can stop people being able to understand speech, keep up with conversations, use the telephone, etc.
Hearing loss is not the only problem that can be caused by noise at work. People may also develop tinnitus (ringing, whistling, buzzing or humming in the ears), a distressing condition which can lead to headaches and disturbed sleep. Tinnitus may also occur in combination with hearing loss.
In addition, noise at work can lead to safety risks – putting people at risk of injury or death. Situations where consideration will need to be given to safety issues in relation to noise include environments where warning sounds are used to avoid or to alert to dangerous situations, where systems of work are in use where safety relies on verbal communications and where personal hearing protection is being used, particularly when working around mobile machinery or traffic.
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations impose duties on both employers and employees so that the risks to health and safety from noise at work is either eliminated or reduced.
Advice on noise at work can be obtained from the Health and Safety Team, Tŷ Elai, Williamstown, CF40 1NY, telephone number 01443 425546.