Showing 0 results for

No results.
Compare 3 products selected
Safe and Sound: Hearing protection and noise exposure explained
2nd April 2024

Sound is often overlooked as a workplace hazard, as it is not visible and the impact of it happens slowly. Although underestimated, around 2 million people in the UK are exposed to unacceptable levels of noise at work, and noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common reason for employers’ liability insurance claims for occupational health. (1)

Industries where hearing loss is likely to be a high risk include construction, woodworking, engineering, and any tasks that involve loud and repetitive noises. Noise is not only detrimental to an employee’s hearing but can lead to increased workplace injuries and accidents if communication across the workplace is hindered, making warnings harder to hear.

Do I have a noise problem in my workplace?

Sound is measured in decibels (dB) with a whisper registering around 30dB and a motorbike engine running at around 95 dB (3). Prolonged exposure to noise above 70 dB can cause hearing damage, while noises exceeding 120 dB can instantly harm hearing.

According to the Health and Safety Executive’s Control of Noise at Work Regulations (2), you will probably need to do something about the noise if the following apply:

  • The noise is intrusive.
  • Employees need to raise their voices to carry out a normal conversation.
  • Employees operate noisy powered tools or machinery for over half an hour daily.

It is also crucial to assess the daily noise levels to which your workers are exposed. This can be determined by considering both the intensity and duration of various noises employees encounter daily.

Hearing protection

The Noise Regulations mandate the elimination or reduction of health and safety risks from noise at work (2). Where possible, excessive noise should be minimised to a safe level, without impacting the job at hand.

In industries where high noise levels are inherent to the job, appropriate hearing protection should be enforced by managers. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for hearing protection consists of ear plugs and ear defenders, and the right choice can be selected depending on the noise level exposure and situation.

Ear plugs are useful in both leisure and occupational environments and are placed in the ear canal to prevent sound wave penetration. Single-use ear plugs should be disposed of when used and a new pair should be used for each use to maintain maximum protection. Hands should also be washed before inserting earplugs.

In addition, Ear defenders can be used to protect the wearer’s hearing. With Globus’s PPE compatibility, ear defenders can be used in combination with other products such as respirators and safety glasses, meaning ear protection does not need to be compromised.

For the most effective hearing protection, ear plugs, and ear defenders can be used in combination, however, this depends on the nature of the job role, as this could hinder communication abilities. To assess the necessary PPE for a specific workplace, the Globus 360 Programme includes a risk assessment, whereby suitable products are recommended based on an individual evaluation. Find out more about the Globus 360 Programme, here.