The Problem of Monitoring and Assessing Workplace Noise20th May 2013
Noise Action Week: Day 1 - Pulsar Instruments plc
Being the first day of Noise Action Week, there is no better time to look at the various types of working environments affected by noise. Each day this week, Pulsar will be covering a different industry as well as recommending the best noise monitoring and measurement devices and practices to keep you and your business in check.
Hearing loss in the workplace was relatively unknown until reports from Insurance Companies began to emerge in the press in recent years about a sudden rise in claims. The majority of the claims were made by employees against their employers surrounding deafness and hearing problems brought on by their working environment.
What many of us are not aware of is that noise can cause damage in a number of ways. For example, exposure to loud noise in short spurts can cause just as much harm as moderately loud noise over a long period of time. As a result, it can take a while for workers to experience the effect of the long-term noise damage - sometimes even after they have left the company where loud or constant noise exposure was a problem.
It is important to note that the effects of noise-induced hearing loss are permanent. It has been reported that over a million Britons are exposed to potentially dangerous levels of noise at work every day and that 1 in 7 people in the UK is said to be either deaf or hard of hearing.
Raising the awareness of noise as a risk
The rise in deafness claims has helped raise awareness around workplace noise. However, although the Law does protect employees against noise-induced hearing loss, the severity of it is more than often overlooked.
Companies are therefore urged to comply with the necessary ‘legal limits' and appoint, train and equip designated health and safety staff to monitor and manage noise levels around their premises. It is also their responsibility to investigate whether further action is required and if so, determine if their employees are at risk.
Once a noise control system is in place, it will need to be reviewed regularly. Therefore, if in future, new equipment comes available or the company moves or rearranges the layout of its current premises, the employees' risks to noise will need to be re-evaluated.
For staff whose job involves moving around throughout the day, personal noise measurement devices are available. Usually worn on the body such as on the shoulder, the devices are able to capture an accurate reading of the noise levels they come into contact with every day or over a shift.
There are a number of general warning signs to look out for when hearing is potentially at risk, such as if people need to shout at each other in order to communicate, which is a good indication that noise levels are probably too high.
Although we experience some level of noise at work, it is important to understand that some workplaces are noisier than others are and therefore, employers need to carry out the necessary precautions.
Find out more details and our recommended sound level meters.
Information about Noise Action Week 2013 can be found here: Noise Action Week