Safe & Sound: Preventing Work-Related Hearing Loss


Following the silencing of Big Ben for a four year restoration project - and the on-going health and safety debate surrounding it! - we take a look at the facts, figures and rules concerning work-related hearing loss.

What's The Fuss?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that 20,000 workers during the last year suffered from Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) which was caused or worsened by work.

In fact, work-related hearing loss is becoming such a major issue that many suggest insurance claims will increase dramatically over the coming years.

Which Industries Are Most Affected?

Energy and water supply, manufacturing, construction and mining are the industries with the greatest number of hearing-related problems.

Additionally, workers in the transportation sector are also seeing high levels of NIHL incidents.

However, throughout all sectors, hearing loss is "the occupational disease with the highest number of civil claims, accounting for about 75% of all occupational disease claims" (HSE).

What Are The Consequences?

Hearing loss often happens gradually, meaning the sufferer may not notice it straight away. Unfortunately, by the time the sufferer becomes aware of their symptoms, the damage to their hearing may be permanent.

Other symptoms may also accompany hearing loss, including earache, tinnitus or even vertigo.

What Are The Rules?

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 are in place to protect workers from exposure to excessive noise in the workplace. These regulations state that employers must assess the risk to employees and put methods in place to reduce noise exposure. To do this, employers will need to know the dB levels of all machines and working areas (you can find out more about controlling noise levels in the workplace by reading this HSE guide.)

Where noise levels can't be reduced, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as ear defenders or ear plugs must be provided to workers.

What PPE Do I Need?

By using the right hearing PPE, the risk of hearing loss can be reduced between 20% - 70%. Here at Swift360, we provide a wide range of hearing protection options, including:

  • Ear plugs - the simplest and most affordable form of hearing PPE; ear plugs offer a quick and easy solution to noise exposure
  • Ear Defenders - these cover the entire ear and often prove more comfortable than their ear plug counterparts; ear defenders can provide exceptional hearing protection up to very high SNR levels

To ensure your employees are working safe and sound, get in contact with us today to discuss your hearing protection requirements.

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