It is, therefore, incredibly important to take steps to preserve the hearing of the million people who are exposed to high levels of noise at work every day. There are a number of ways to do this, but the two main methods are by reducing the amount of noise in the workplace and by increasing the hearing protection of the workers.
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 state that the level of noise in the workplace must be reduced as much as possible before resorting to hearing protection for the workers.
The simplest way to protect workers’ hearing from noise damage is to generate less noise in the workplace. This can involve purchasing quieter machinery, preventing metal-on-metal impacts, stopping machinery from vibrating against other surfaces and fitting silencers where possible.
Another method of noise reduction is to prevent the noise from reaching the workers. One way in which this can be achieved is through separating the area where noise is being produced from as much of the workforce as possible. If it is not possible to separate the areas entirely, direct noise can be deflected by the use of screens. In addition, noise absorbent materials can be used on the walls and floor. If workers must come into the place where the noise is generated, it is advisable that time spent there is minimised and the level of noise for this time is reduced if at all possible.
There are three main types of hearing protection that can be used by workers to prevent industrial deafness. These are ear defenders, ear plugs, and semi-aural inserts and all work by providing a sound barrier which dramatically reduces the amount of sound entering the ear.
Ear defenders usually come on a band that fits across the head. However, they can come attached to a helmet for those who work in environments where head protection is also necessary. It is important that there are no gaps around the seal of ear defenders so that unmitigated noise does not leak into the ear.
Customised ear plugs are available and can be the best choice for many workers. It is important to check if ear plugs are reusable and to keep them clean so ear infections do not develop.
Semi-aural inserts are similar to ear plugs but do not fit into the ear as far and come on a band that fits under the chin or behind the neck. They do not provide as good protection as other types of ear protection and should only be used to protect against noise up to 87 dB.
If you believe that you have noise-related hearing problems that you sustained as a result of your work, you may well be entitled to industrial deafness compensation. Under the Noise at Work Regulations 2005, employers have a responsibility to ensure that workers’ hearing is not damaged by a noisy workplace. Contact First Personal Injury to see if you are entitled to claim.
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