Occupational noise is a work hazard perhaps more readily identifiable with working in sectors like construction. Heavy manufacturing and large construction sites all conjure images of bustling environments where high levels of noise are constant. Noise assessment then becomes a priority from a point of view of protecting your workers and your business.
Some 170,000 people in the UK alone suffer from a variety of ear conditions such as tinnitus and partial deafness due to excessive noise exposure in the work place.
The significance of the potential for noise induced hearing loss is widely under-estimated by employers and employees alike. The Noise at Work Regulations of 2005 require that employers undertake risk assessment of employee noise exposure and, where noise exposure is judged to be significant, specific measures must be taken to reduce noise.
Failure to adhere to the legislation can expose firms to potential fines for putting employees at risk as well as the potential for litigation from those suffering hearing loss.
According to Mike Potts of Echo Acoustics, a firm that specialises in helping companies in assessing workplace noise, undertaking an initial risk assessment of employee noise exposure is a relatively simple task requiring no specialist skills or equipment.
‘Most employers can quickly and easily undertake a simple risk assessment of noise exposure themselves and yet they don’t realise just how important it can be to do so; there are now legal firms in the UK specialising in pursuing legal claims for occupational hearing damage.
Employers also generally don’t realise that the Noise at Work Regulations require that, where practicable, noise exposure must be reduced irrespective of the level of the noise and that this must be achieved through organisational and operational changes wherever possible. The use of personal hearing protection is a ‘last line of defence’ and should only be used where noise cannot be reduced through other means or as an interim measure whilst other changes are made.
Companies like Echo Acoustics can help employers to better understand their legal requirements under the Noise at Work Regulations 2005 and to start working to try and reduce their employees’ exposure to noise.
Property Aspects Magazine appreciates the contribution to this article from Mike Potts of Echo Acoustics. Echo Acoustics offers advice on the most appropriate course of action for any environmental noise or vibration related problem.