Construction worker amongst the noisiest occupations in the UK
A recent article by Safety and Health Practitioner focuses on workplace noise and in particular construction workers who face having the third noisiest occupation in the UK.
This is just behind airport ground staff and Formula One drivers who face noise levels of 140 decibels (dB) and 135 dB respectively. Construction workers can experience peak levels of up to 120 dB which can include sounds such as a hammer drill.
Other occupations on the list of noisy jobs (carried out by Echo Carrier) include rock stars (110 dB), teachers and nursery workers (85 dB) and also factor and farm workers who may experience up to 105 dB of noise when feeding squealing pigs.
Despite these occupations being a way of life for some people, the noise levels they are exposed to can cause long-term damage. Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is an example of an occupational health problem and is unfortunately permanent and irreversible.
NIHL leaves no visible trauma at first and only more distinct symptoms may notify the sufferer that their hearing is in fact impaired. This may include symptoms such as distorted hearing or difficulty hearing. Other symptoms of NIHL include difficulty understanding speech whilst participating in activities such as telephone or group conversations or difficulty hearing sounds such as watch and clock alarms or telephones and doorbells.
Tinnitus is also common, which is a pain and ringing in the ears after excessive noise exposure. This affects one in ten adults in the UK (1% of which have their quality of life affected by it).
It is essential that risk assessments of the workplace are initially carried out to identify noise hazards and efforts are made to control and eliminate excessive noise. After this has been carried out the correct hearing protection should be issued by employers.
There is a wide range of hearing protection on the Frontline Safety website, including communication, electronic and passive ear muffs. There is also the option of helmet mounted ear muffs. To purchase hearing protection from Frontline Safety click on the image above to view our product range or contact us on [email protected]
The type of hearing protection you choose will be dependent on factors such as the application being carried out, the individual person, the pattern of noise exposure and also the compatibility with other safety equipment used. More factors are explained on the HSE website.
Care should be taken when choosing the correct hearing protection and it is important that all factors are taken into consideration.
Although the case numbers for NIHL have fallen ever so slightly over the years the numbers are still considerably high with around 170,000 people in the UK suffering from deafness, tinnitus or other conditions.
Those with industrial hearing loss provide the highest amount of civil claims within occupation disease – accounting for around 75% of these claims. Action on Hearing Loss report that the 10 million people living in the UK with some sort of hearing loss will rise to 14.5 million people by 2031.
These figures support the fact that hearing protection in the workplace cannot be ignored and employers should be aware of the issue of NIHL and other occupational diseases and how they can prevent them.
Recent events such as International Noise Awareness Day (24th April) further highlight the issue of noise exposure to the general public and the risks that it poses every year. Noise Action Week (20th-24th May) is another event created to raise awareness of noise disturbance at home, work, play or out in the street.
Written by Dawn Mitchell