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FEATURE


HEAR ALL ABOUT IT


David Ford, Compliance Lead at CHAS, highlights seven areas to pay attention to that help prevent work-related hearing loss.


Exposure to elevated levels of noise at work can lead to irreversible hearing damage and it remains one of the most common occupational health complaints, accounting for 75% of all health-related civil claims in industry according to latest HSE data.


However, there are many ways to reduce noise and noise exposure in the workplace and most often a combination of methods works best.


Noise assessments need to be carried out where an issue of elevated noise has been identified. The HSE has provided this helpful guide for businesses on how to recognise if noise in their workplace could cause potential health issues. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 stipulate specific noise exposure action levels which employers need to measure themselves against and noise assessments must be carried out be someone who is competent and understands what needs to be done to comply with the law – be it in-house personnel or external contractors who specialise in noise risk assessment.


Eliminating the noise at source should always be the first measure for reducing the effects of noise


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exposure, according to the HSE, either by removing the noisy work process or machinery altogether or outsourcing it. Segregating noisy work from other work activities and using walls, screens and barriers will limit exposure. Duration of exposure can be reduced by rotating shift patterns or by the provision of a noise refuge. Substituting noisy machines for quieter ones is the next best option where elimination can’t be achieved completely.


Machinery suppliers are under obligation to make products generate as little noise as possible according to the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 so liaise with manufacturers prior to purchase to understand the likely noise levels their machinery will emit. Consider implementing a positive noise reducing purchasing policy. The HSE ‘Buy Quiet’ guide is about manufacturers, importers, suppliers and users of equipment working together to reduce the risks from noise in the workplace. Where applying noise control solutions to existing machinery is necessary there are many products that can significantly reduce decibel levels in resonant areas while offering little to no change in how effectively it operates. For more ideas,


www.tomorrowshs.com


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