Sharp rise in claims from employees have highlighted why the risk of noise-induced hearing loss cannot be ignored
The recent reports in the press about insurance groups complaining of a sharp rise in claims from employees seeking compensation for hearing problems have highlighted the real risks of noise-induced hearing loss and the importance of protecting employees in the workplace.
Although employees are protected by Law, noise-induced hearing loss is often ignored. And once hearing loss has occurred, it is irreversible. It is important to remember that prevention is the most sensible option and that by applying a good noise control programme, the risk can be controlled.
The increasing ‘claim culture’ dictates that companies must comply with their legal duties as detailed in the ‘Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005′. These regulations in parts introduced ‘legal limits’ for daily noise exposure and the changes it brought with it were driven by a European Directive with the view to eliminate noise-induced hearing loss in the workplace.
What is hearing loss?
With normal hearing, we hear sounds at safe levels that do not affect our hearing. However, when we are exposed to harmful noise – sounds that are too loud or loud sounds that last a long time – sensitive structures in our inner ear can be damaged, causing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). These sensitive structures, called hair cells, are small sensory cells that convert sound energy into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once damaged, these cells cannot grow back.
Who is at risk?
According to the HSE, more than 1 million employees in Great Britain are exposed to levels of noise which put their hearing at risk.
What employers need to do?
To comply with legal duties, employers and those with responsibilities for the health & safety of staff in premises must:
- Appoint a person with sufficient skills for the task and use a suitable sound level meter
- Establish whether there are any noise hazards within the workplace such as by taking some simple noise measurements using a sound level meter and an acoustic calibrator
- Identify all employees who could be at risk
- Evaluate how harm may occur
- Take more detailed individual noise measurement to determine the typical exposures of those at risk
- Report clearly any findings for future reference, produce a noise control programme, implement, manage and review
How can Pulsar help?
With well over 40 years in noise measurement, we provide compliant, practical and affordable noise measurement equipment to suit your own workplace noise issues:
- Sound level meters and acoustic calibrators
- Noise dosemeters
- Noise At Work basic advice and support
- Noise Awareness Training courses
- Recalibration services
Enquire how Pulsar Instruments noise measurement products can help your health & safety strategy by contacting our team on 01723 518011