What you need to know about noise

What you need to know about noise

What you need to know about noise.


Noise is everywhere and it can sometimes be tricky to remember the irreversible impact it can have on our hearing. But what are the signs of a noise problem? What responsibilities are there? What can we do to prevent or limit damage?

Symptoms of hearing damage are extremely varied, but there’s a few general things to look out for. This could be something as simple as noticing you’re having trouble keeping track of everyday conversations or feeling like your mobile and TV are never loud enough, to something as severe as a constant high-pitched ringing, whistling or buzzing noise in your ear, a condition known as tinnitus.

The law places a legal responsibility for employers to make sure there are controls in place to protect their workers from the dangers of noise, under the Control of Noise at Work Act 2005. At peak sound levels of 80dB, employers needs to assess sound levels on site. At 85dB, you need to protect your staff from potential hearing damage, such as through protective equipment. 85dB is around the same volume as a large truck.

The upper legal limit is 87dB, at which point action is required to bring noise levels down. This sound level is around the same as that of a commercial lawnmower.

The reality of an active workplace means it’s not always possible to eradicate noise, but you can control how long people are exposed to it and what protections are available. For example, in a noisy area, you can insist that hearing protection is worn, or limit the amount of time they can spend in the area before having to take a break outside it. You can also ensure staff are equipped with the right information about any noise-related risks. If it does seem like the sound levels could pose a risk, health surveillance might be required to test the worker’s hearing. Communicating with the staff is a critical part of finding a solution – they’re the ones faced with the noise every day, and gave some of the most valuable input on how effective your controls are.

At 1st Option Safety we can help by assessing the current noise levels and implementing the required changes to bring them back down to safe levels. If you think you might have a problem with noise and would like some further advice, feel free to contact us today.

Paul Greeves