The Risk of Hearing Damage and Loss Arising from the Workplace

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In this vlog, our Teli Chinelis briefly discusses the risk of hearing damage and hearing loss due to exposure to occupational noise.

Noise At Work

Not only can prolonged exposure to noise result in irreversible hearing damage, but it can also cause or contribute to safety risks, for example, if employees fail to hear warning signals, and the consequences of failing to tackle noise can damage businesses financially.

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 require employers to eliminate or minimise risks from noise, so far as is reasonably practicable, with the aim of preventing workers suffering from hearing damage and other harm.

As with many occupational diseases, hearing damage develops gradually over many years and the consequences of poor noise risk management, i.e. employees developing noise-induced hearing loss may not come to light for many years, by which time it is too late because noise-induced hearing loss is irreversible.

Equally, action taken to control risks may not show an immediate benefit, such as might be the case with a safety-related issue that can be tracked with accident statistics.

Some organisations may find this to be a barrier to identifying any poor practice in managing noise risks, perhaps continuing to rely on personal hearing protection rather than implementing practical and sustainable controls of noise risks.

The law requires that engineering, technical and organisational solutions are in place, so far as is reasonably practicable.

A noise risk assessment should be completed and kept up to date; this doesn’t need to be a complex document, and there is no requirement to even make noise measurements, although these will be helpful in many cases. The important aspects to remember are that you need to:

  • Identify and analyse where there are noise problems and who might be affected;
  • Identify possible solutions;
  • Put a plan in place to carry out the actions identified.

It is a legal requirement to record the significant findings of the risk assessment, and the actions taken or intended to be taken. All these relevant documents ought to be retained to demonstrate compliance now and in the future.

A well-managed noise management programme does not have to be expensive or complicated and can add real value to a business with respect to culture and reputation, as well as demonstrating legal compliance and defending potential future claims.

For any further information on the risk of hearing damage and loss arising from the workplace, please contact [email protected].

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