What are your New Year’s resolutions? As we enter 2016, challenge yourself to add one more resolution to the list: Make Hearing Conservation a Priority at work.
Many occupations have potential noise problems including construction, manufacturing, entertainment, armed forces and even education. Noise is complex and can be transmitted by reflection from surrounding walls or nearby buildings, through the structure of the floor or even directly by the tool in operation itself.
Above all, if noise is not controlled and allowed to exceed certain limits, it can lead to ear damage either temporary (known as acute) or more permanent (known as chronic). Importantly, if the noise level exposure remains unchanged, noise-induced hearing loss will lead to a permanent threshold shift affecting an increasing number of frequencies. In time, hearing will be greatly diminished and may be lost entirely.
Hearing loss likely to affect millions in the future
In 2015 NHS England reported that hearing loss affects over 10 million adults in the UK – not all from noise at work – but the burden on future services is likely to be substantial. The Health and Safety Executive in the UK has estimated that well over 1 million employees in Great Britain are exposed to levels of noise which put their hearing at risk. There is no excuse for this as noise-induced hearing loss is totally preventable.
So, start your 2016 Prevention Resolution by asking yourself:
- What plans do I have to assess and control noise levels at work?
- Am I taking noise measurements correctly?
- How do I reduce the risks from noise exposure?
- Is the information and training I am providing my staff adequate?
- How do I select the right personal hearing protection?
- Am I collating sufficient and correct noise data for safekeeping?
- Am I up to date with the Control of Noise at Work Regulations?
Invest in safeguarding your staff’s hearing
Staff are, arguably, your greatest asset. As the New Year begins, investing in that asset can only be a good thing – both in terms of continued growth for your business, compliance with the legal framework and absence of disruption caused by a claim for compensation. Smaller firms are the least able to afford the cost or disruption caused by a civil claim, yet there is a great deal that employers can still do to instill a culture of hearing conservation in the work environment.
As an employer or the person responsible for the control of noise in the work environment, be aware of your duties under the legislation to protect your employees’ hearing. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice and share good practice with professionals of similar background and responsibilities.
There is support and guidance on the HSE website in the UK and you can also contact us to discuss any noise monitoring strategies including noise measuring products that you could use as part of your noise control programme and professional training. Don’t delay taking action because hearing loss is not visible and mostly irreversible – make hearing conservation your priority.
A Happy New Year from all us at Pulsar Instruments.