Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common occupational health hazard there is.
When on site, there will be several things that are used that can be harmful to your hearing e.g. Compressors, excavators, generators etc. Even if you are not using the equipment, you could still be affected by someone else using it close by.
If shouting is necessary in order to hear, then the noise level is high and you should wear ear protectors. When using a compressor make sure the covers are closed and don’t keep machinery running unnecessarily. If possible, don’t expose your colleagues to the noise and try to move away from the work area. When it is possible try to work behind a wall or some other sound-absorbing material.
Sound is pressure waves through the air. It is measured in decibels or dB. The scale is logarithmic which means that an increase of 3dB results in a doubling of the sound pressure.
Under regulations an employer must assess the noise and reduce it where practicable by engineering methods i.e. silencers, muffs, acoustic chambers, or if this is not possible he must provide hearing protection.
Action levels are laid down, they are:
Above 80 dB (A) over an eight hour period
Above 85 dB(A) over an eight hour period
Above 87 dB (A) over an eight hour period
Peak 140 dB(A) anytime
With regards to the actions, the Regulations state that an employer must;
- Make hearing protection equipment available if you are likely to encounter noise between 80 – 85 dB (A).
- Make hearing protection available and insist on it being worn above 85 dB (A) you must co-operate and wear the hearing protection.
- Maximum time weighted daily exposure 87 dB(A)
- Your employer must provide shielding / sound deadening and noise reduction systems.
Some examples of the time a worker may be exposed to noise under the regulations are as follows:
- 85 dB (A) – 8 hours
- 93 dB(A – 4 hours
- 96 dB (A) – 2 hours
- 99 dB(A) – 1 hour
- 110 dB (A) – 4m 44 seconds
- 140 dB(A) – 28 seconds