Did you know that any noise over 85 decibels can be harmful to your hearing? This is especially likely if you’re exposed to this level of sound for a prolonged period of time, which is possible when you work with loud equipment. To give you an idea of how loud 85 decibels is, the noise of busy traffic might be 70 to 85dB whereas a motorbike revving is around 90dB. If you have to raise your voice to make yourself heard, or find it hard to hear others, then the level of noise you’re being subjected to could be damaging your long-term hearing. Luckily, the threat of damage can be alleviated by wearing protective ear defenders when you’re working.
Responsibilities In The Workplace
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations, 2005 are clear that employers have a legal responsibility to protect their workforce if they work in a noisy job. The regulations require that employers must regularly assess noise levels in the workplace and keep clear, written documentation to back up these checks. When noise levels reach 80dB, then it is a requirement for employers to take action to protect their workers which may include switching to equipment and machinery that is quieter and will almost certainly involve providing staff with personal hearing protection including:
Remember that the louder the decibel count, the shorter amount of time it will take for the hearing of your workers to be damaged, so it’s important to be proactive, even in cases where the increase in noise levels may be temporary!
The responsibility is with the employer to provide such equipment to allow employees to complete their work without risking their general health. Workers who believe their hearing has been damaged as a result of their organisation not complying with the necessary health and safety regulations, have the right to claim for personal injury through the civil courts which may result in receiving the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB).
Employees Adhering To Health and Safety Policies
However, employees must also act responsibly with regards to their own hearing. Where protective ear defenders have been issued, these must be worn by the employee at the times and in places which should be specified in a health and safety policy document. If the ear defender equipment becomes damaged through wear and tear, then the employee should report this immediately as it may not be safe to continue working without a replacement set of ear shields.
Who Needs Personal Hearing Protection?
Hearing loss can occur in any high-level noise environment, which might include those working at concerts within the music industry, and anyone involved in construction or factory work where noisy machinery is routinely used as part of the role. It’s not just the operators of loud equipment who will be affected, but anyone in the vicinity. If you can’t hear someone who is 2 metres away from you, then there’s a problem!
The following roles will typically require this type of specialist protection:
- Road workers
- Factory machinists
- Construction workers when drills, mixers are used
- Airport workers based near the runway or plane engines
Choosing The Right Type of Hearing Protectors
As there are a variety of hearing protectors available, it’s important to select the right type of defence against noise and ensure that it is effective in eliminating the problem. Your protectors should always meet British and European standards and be stamped with the CE certification.
Earplugs should fit securely inside the ear canal so that they’re airtight and won’t allow any noise to ‘leak’ in. Test several types of plug protectors until you find the right fit. Earplugs are useful as they can easily fit beneath other types of personal protective gear you might be wearing including helmets or safety goggles.
Earmuffs and ear defenders need to have an airtight seal over the top of your outer ear, so it’s important that you don’t try to wear these on top of long hair. When you wear a combination of earplugs and earmuffs, you can add as much as 10dB of protection, which should be enough to cancel out noises such as pneumatic drills.
You may want to choose high-visibility hearing protectors to add an extra level of safety when putting together a personal protective gear outfit.
PPE Supplies Direct has a full range of ear defender equipment available to suit your specific requirements and you can benefit from cost savings when you place a bulk order to protect the hearing of all your workers. If you have any queries about our product range, then get in touch with our knowledgeable team of PPE experts who will be happy to help! Call us today on 0808 109 6099.