How your employer should protect you from noise induced hearing loss


It has now been 10 years since The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 were introduced, however many employers still do not adequately protect their workers against excessive noise. Not only does this open their employees up to the risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, the employers could face fines from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and compensation claims from workers.

How loud is too loud?

It can be difficult to know what the noise levels are unless you have a gadget that can measure them. However, a general rule is that if you have to shout to be heard over the noise, it could damage your hearing.

If you work in a potentially noisy environment, your employer should carry out noise surveys to measure the noise levels and act on these according to the regulations. There are limited to the average noise you can be exposed to over a working week and noise you can be exposed to during a working day:

  • lower exposure action values:
    • daily or weekly exposure of 80 dB;
    • peak sound pressure of 135 dB;
  • upper exposure action values:
    • daily or weekly exposure of 85 dB;
    • peak sound pressure of 137 dB.

Your employer must not allow you to exceed limits:

  • daily or weekly exposure of 87 dB;
  • peak sound pressure of 140 dB.

Employers have a responsibility to accurately measure and record noise levels and protect employees.

What should your employers do?

  • Control the risks from noise
    • Look for alternative processes, equipment or methods to either reduce the noise or reduce the time someone is exposed to the noise.
  • Educate employees
    • You should be told what noise levels you are likely to be exposed to and what risks these have to your hearing.
    • Employers should advise workers what they are doing to control the risks and reduce noise levels.
  • Provide hearing protecttion
    • If noise exposure is between the lower and upper action values and employees ask for it, hearing protection should be provided.
    • If noise exposure is over the upper action values, hearing protection must be provided.
    • Employees should be trained on the proper use of hearing protection.
    • Areas where hearing protection is needed should be clearly marked.
    • Employees should know where they can obtain hearing protection.
    • All hearing protection should be well maintained.

Will any hearing protection do?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be suitable for the job at hand and should not hamper an employee as they carry out their duties, from safety googles to hard hats. Hearing protection is no different and employers should ensure the hearing protection they provide is suitable, it should:

  • Provide enough protection
    • Different hearing protection has different attenuation levels, meaning the level of noise it blocks out. Hearing protection should aim to reduce noise at the ear to under 85dB.
  • Be suitable
    • When selecting the type of hearing protection there are many factors to consider, the work environemnt, the job involved and any other PPE that is needed. For example, if a hard hat needs to be worn, standard ear defenders would not be suitable, ear plugs or helmet mounted defenders would be needed.
  • Maintain protection
    • Hearing protection needs to be clean and in good condition to work effectively. Ear plugs should be replaced regularly so as not to cause dirt to enter ears. Ear defenders should have a good seal and headbands should be adjustable.

Should I have my hearing checked?

If you work in a noisy environment, even if you wear hearing protection, your employer should arrange for your hearing to be tested.

Ideally, you should be tested at the start of your employment to provide a baseline of your hearing level which can be compared with subsequent tests.

Regular checks should then be done, normally this would be once a year for the first two years of employment and then every three years, provided no hearing problems are found.

Hearing tests should be carried out by trained professionals and if any problems are detected, employees should be advised.

What if my hearing is damaged?

If your employer fails to adhere to the Regulations and you find that your hearing has been damaged by noise, you may be eligible to claim for noise induced hearing loss compensation.

Our expert hearing loss solicitors can lead you through your claim if you are suffering with hearing loss and/or tinnitus.

What’s My Deafness Claim Worth has extensive experience in dealing with people suffering with hearing loss and tinnitus. We have a specialist team of solicitors, as well as a fully trained audiologist, who will fight for the compensation that you deserve. Our team understands that it can be a very difficult and daunting time for you and they will do their best to offer an unparalleled support network and specialist legal expertise. If you have suffered a personal injury, which was not your fault, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.If you are suffering from loss of hearing, buzzing or ringing in your ears, you may be entitled to claim for compensation.

If you have been affected by hearing loss or exposure to noisy working environments you should not hesitate to contact us or to try our ‘Calculate my Claim’ feature on the right hand side of this page to see what your claim may be worth. We understand that the symptoms that you are suffering from can have serious consequences on your day to day life. When fighting for your compensation we take into account any time you have had to take off work, any treatment you have had to pay for including the cost of hearing aids and any other losses that you may have incurred.

All claims are dealt with on a no win, no fee basis.

Call 0800 849 8700 to speak to a member of our specialist team of Industrial Disease lawyers who will assist you further with this matter.

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