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Noise at work guidance in pipeline

12 September 2018

CLARE FORSHAW has revealed the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are currently looking at producing noise at work guidance around PPE for hard of hearing employees.

Speaking at a panel debate on noise in the workplace at Health and Safety Scotland, Forshaw, of Park Health and Safety, admitted the area needed to be looked as questions existed around the point of exposure: “When does [exposure] happen? Is it before it’s amplified by the hearing aid, or just before? There is draft guidance being kicked around by the HSE,” she said, before adding. “It’s a tricky issue.”

Affirming the need for clear guidance, Mandy Reid, from the Scottish Council of Deafness, explained that “most people aren’t completely deaf, in fact, relatively few people have no hearing whatsoever. Most people wear hearing aids to keep their [hearing] balance going, so there would be a small amount of hearing they would get through their hearing aid. They should be wearing ear protectors, no matter what level of their deafness.”

Chairing the debate, Simon Field from 3M, suggested that ear protection is imperative for those registered deaf as exposure could lead to other issues. “You could be at risk of damaging hearing further, and even developing tinnitus,” he said.

The HSE estimate 20,000 workers currently suffering work-related hearing problems and a further two million are being exposed to unacceptable levels in the workplace. The legislation underpinning this is the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 requires employees to carry out a noise assessment to be carried out. 

Shaun Knott from Casella explained: “Under the legislation, he said, “if you’ve five employees or more, you’re required to conduct a noise assessment at work at least every two years, or if anything changes in the workplace; moving the factory around or changing PPE. This can either be carried out by a consultant or by yourself.”

He continued: “Noise meters are very easy to use. They used to be something that needed a trolley but now they give you everything you need; downloadable into a single software package, then you can conduct your own work place noise assessment providing you follow the legislation.”