Noise Levels In The Workplace

An initiative piloted by the Health and Safety Executive to assess noise levels in the work place and its health risks took place between the 22nd September and 17th October of this year. 1,748 sites were inspected unannounced by the HSE and out of those sites 40% failed their health and safety spot checks. 1 in 5 of the sites management of preventative measures was so poor that enforcement action by the HSE was required immediately. 35% of the notices which were issued were because of their excessive noise levels.

The reasoning behind this initiative by the HSE is because all employers must ensure that the noise levels at their workplace must comply with the Noise at Work Regulations 2005 in order to comply with Health and Safety Standards.

Here is a list of some of the regulations that must be complied with:-

  • Employees should not be exposed to noise between 80 and 85dB for more than 8 hours a day and no noise exposure above 87dB.
  • Employers must ensure they carry out a risk assessment on noise levels and ensure that they do not exceed 85dB.
  • Employers must provide hearing protection to all employees and enforce its use and provide training in relation to its use.

If the above regulations are not adhered to whilst a person is employed by a company, this can result in a person developing Noise Induced Hearing Loss and the employer being held negligent and/or in breach of their duties to the employee.

Noise induced hearing loss is the result of significant exposure to noise at levels exceeding 80dB to 85dB for a long period of time. This can be caused by regular exposure at noisy factories, construction sites, steelworks or even music concerts. A person can be exposed to this excessive noise when no suitable hearing protection is provided or enforced by employers.

The Noise at Work Regulations 1989, which applied until the 2005 Regulations came into effect, placed new responsibilities on employers to protect employees from exposure to noise. The regulations included provision for employers, where average exposure exceeded 85dB, to carry out regular noise assessments, provide instruction and training on the use of hearing protection and ensure the enforcement of hearing protection if noise levels exceeded 90dB.  The 2005 Regulations reduced this threshold to 85dB requiring all employers to enforce the wearing of hearing protection where noise exceeded this level.

Despite the Regulations, as is shown above, we continue to see that many employers are still failing to follow the requirements of the Regulations. This means that the risk of employees suffering noise induced hearing loss will continue and workers should be aware of this.

We are Industrial Disease Solicitors who specialise in pursuing claims for employees who have suffered significant noise exposure through their work and have developed hearing loss or tinnitus as a result. When a person brings a claim, they only have three years from when they first became aware of their hearing problems and thought, at that time, that this may be related to their noise exposure through work, in which to issue court proceedings as otherwise the claim would be brought out of time and would be statute barred. If you have developed hearing loss symptoms within the last three years and have worked in a noisy working environment, please contact us as you may be entitled to a claim for compensation.

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