Warnings about deafness & tinnitus caused by excessive noise on building sites

  • 26 Sep 2014

Use the link above to access the complete Johnson Law infographic on Industrial Deafness and Tinnitus

David Johnson from Johnson Law

“If a job consistently exposes employees to noise levels of 80dB or more, then they are at risk of developing industrial deafness or tinnitus”.

Although call centres, night clubs, bars and factories are among the loudest places to work, those in the construction industry are particularly susceptible, with tools such hand drills and chainsaws reaching up to 115dB.

If your workforce is consistently exposed to 80dB or more, then they are at risk of developing industrial deafness.

To put 80dB into context, normal conversation measures around 66dB.

Possible effects of exposure to excessive noise

Tinnitus is a common condition that currently affects around 10% of the UK population and is often a result of exposure to noise at work. Tinnitus can be described as hearing a sound, such as ringing or humming, from within the body.

While most people learn to live with tinnitus, it can impact on day-to-day life by affecting concentration, causing sleep problems and can result in depression.

If the cause of tinnitus can be established it can often be effectively treated, however in more extreme cases of audio trauma, hearing can be lost altogether.

The law and you

Legislation is in place to protect employees from this type of injury. If you’re an employer in the building industry it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the law.

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (Noise Regulations 2005) states that employers must ‘prevent or reduce the risks to health and safety from exposure to noise at work’.

Therefore it is your duty to protect your workforce from acoustic trauma, and this can mean anything from simply providing appropriate ear protection to altering the layout of your workplace to minimise noise levels.

  • provide hearing protectors to employees exposed to excessive noise
  • ensure hearing protectors are maintained and used correctly
  • identify areas where the use of hearing protection is compulsory with visible signage
  • Staff should be encouraged to give their ears time to recover if exposure to load noise cannot be avoided. This means 16 hours of quiet if they are exposed to 100dB of noise.

Unfortunately there is no cure for tinnitus, but if you or any of your employees suffer from it, listening to relaxing sounds is often a helpful distraction. Cognitive behavioural therapy can also help in managing symptoms.

Johnson Law,
29-31 Knowsley Street,
United Kingdom,

Phone: 0800 130 0699
Fax: 01204 520 777

Visit Johnson Law's website

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