Keeping up to date with health and safety legislation is a demanding job. However, of the many areas that come under this remit, workplace noise monitoring is one aspect of a Health and Safety strategy that can get neglected at times. Noise measurement may not be a top priority but delaying taking action may impact on your business in more ways than one.
Let’s look at 5 reasons why you should be actively measuring noise levels inside and at the boundary of your premises – even if you don’t consider noise to be an issue.
1) Noise may cause hearing damage
It is well known that individual exposure to loud noises in a work environment over time or to sudden loud bangs can cause hearing damage such as gradual hearing loss but also permanent, sudden deafness. This is especially true of manufacturing, construction, extraction and entertainment industries. Tinnitus is another condition which can develop from noise exposure. It can be debilitating and a cause of depression in some people as sleep becomes disturbed (because of ringing or buzzing in the ears). Read here first hand stories of people who suffer from tinnitus.
2) Legislation applies to you
The Noise at Work Regulations (2005) came into force on 6th April 2006 and, under the Law, employers have a legal duty to eliminate or reduce risks to health and safety from noise at work. This can be remedied via the assessment of risk, control of noise, hearing protection, equipment, health surveillance, information, instruction and training. If you are not sure about the legislation, our industry experts can help you with the essentials. If you want detailed information, we recommend that you also consult the HSE website.
3) NIHL* Claims on the increase
You may not be aware of this but there has been a progressive increase in the number of noise-induced hearing loss claims since 2001 and a steep increase in new industrial deafness civil claims in the last few years. In fact, according to the Actuaries, 80,000 new claims notifications for NIHL were estimated to have been made in the UK in 2014. It is thought that this figure is, in fact, underestimated. We have been featuring this subject in the last few months in our blog and you may wish to read some of our previous articles for a fuller overview of the problem.
*Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
4) Cost of a claim
If you were was served with a claim for NIHL, would you know the potential cost to your business? Each case is different and the amount of compensation awarded to an existing or ex-employee depends on the severity of the hearing damage. To give you an idea, we have listed below a range of compensation awards for commonly diagnosed conditions:
- Total deafness: £50,000 up to £60,000
- Deafness in one ear: £17,500 up to £25,000
- For severe hearing loss or tinnitus: £16,000 and £25,000
- Moderate hearing loss or tinnitus: £8,000 and £16,000
- Mild hearing loss and tinnitus: £4,000 and £8,000
In addition to the compensation award to the claimant – if successful – there are also the administration charges to be incurred by the company, not mentioning the bad publicity and loss of reputation surrounding any court case being featured in local, national and professional press. Dealing with a court case may also divert human resources, and lead to loss of business revenue and potential disruption in business continuity.
So, next time you are putting off implementing a noise control strategy or researching noise measurement technology, pull this blog out as a reminder that there are many valid reasons to get started, even if it does not feel like an important issue at the time!
Download our FREE employers guide to Controlling Noise at Work here.