Exposure to noise at work causing hearing loss is still a significant occupational illness.
Employers have a duty of care to protect their employees while at work and this may mean providing personal protective equipment. In the case of loud environments this may be ear plugs or ear muffs.
It can be tempting to pick the hearing protection with the highest level of protection (or attenuation), however ‘over attenuation’ can bring it’s own problems. If the sound level at the ear is reduced too far, the wearer can become isolated, unable to hear people’s voices, moving vehicles or warning sounds/alarms.
In a workplace where noise may be an issue the noise level needs to be measured. This is covered by the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. Between 80 and 85db(A) hearing protection is not compulsory but is made available to workers for their comfort and protection. Above this hearing protection is compulsory. These regulations give a new limit of 87db at the ear (under hearing protective equipment) which must not be exceeded.
Ear plugs can be used against various sound levels which are normally disposable. Alternatively ear muffs similar to those shown above can be used.
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