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Noise at Work Awareness of Noise and Hearing Protection in the

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1 Noise at Work Awareness of Noise and Hearing Protection in the
University of Sheffield

2 Scope of the Problem In the UK there are over 170,000 people with significant work-related hearing damage 14,200 are serious enough affected to receive disablement benefit

3 Noise is an ancient problem!
Roman poets complained about the racket of iron cart-wheels on the cobbles

4 What is noise? Unpleasant or unwanted sound
When unwanted noise gets loud enough It is unpleasant It is distracting It is tiring & stressful Higher levels cause permanent hearing damage

5 Likelihood of Damage Depends mainly on: Volume (loudness)
Frequency (pitch) Exposure time Can be work exposure, social exposure or both

6 Damage can include: Temporary hearing loss Permanent hearing loss
hearing returns after a short period away from noise Permanent hearing loss Permanent damage or destruction of hair cells in the ears. Hearing cannot be restored

7 Signs of developing hearing loss
Inability to hear soft or high pitched sounds Trouble understanding conversation at a distance or in a crowd Ringing in the ears Others can hear something you can’t

8 There is no cure for hearing damage!
Normal hearing can never be restored Hearing aids do not restore noise-damaged hearing At best, they help the person a little

9 Frequency of Sound Infra- Normal Ultra- Sound Sound Sound

10 Noise Levels Ear is most sensitive to normal frequency sound
The dBA scale takes this into account when measuring noise levels

11 Measurement of Noise Loudness is measured in decibels
170 dB Jet airliner 120 dB Riveting hammer 110 dB Shouting loudly 70 dB Street sounds 38 dB Quiet bedroom This is a logarithmic scale – an increase of 1dB means about 30% more noise

12 What Law applies? The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (Commencement date April 2006 except for music industry) The Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974

13 Risk Assessment Observe procedures Refer to standard data
If necessary, measure noise levels Compare with action levels Identify control measures

14 Action and Limit Values
Lower action value (LAV) 80dBA – 8hrs Peak – 135dBA Upper action value (UAV) 85dBA – 8hrs Peak – 137dBA Exposure limit value (ELV) 87dBA – 8hrs Peak – 140dBA Can take account of hearing protection

15 If your average daily exposure is over 80dB(A)
The employer must: Inform you of the risks to your hearing from noise and how you can reduce those risks Make hearing protective equipment available

16 If your average daily exposure is over 85dB(A)
Your employer must: Try to reduce noise at source Provide hearing protection & insist on its use Identify & sign ear protection zones Conduct noise assessments & keep records of them Provide hearing checks if requested

17 If your average daily exposure is over 87dB(A)
This is a maximum & must not be exceeded Noise to the ear must be reduced Preferably at source Otherwise by hearing protection

18 Control of Noise Preferably eliminate or reduce it at source eg
Maintenance & lubrication Anti-vibration mounting Sound absorbing materials Enclosure Reducing exposure time

19 Hearing protection Ear Plugs Must be kept clean (many are single use)
Must be put in properly (there is a special technique) Generally comfortable to wear especially in hot weather

20 Hearing protection Canal Caps Like in-ear ear plugs on a headband
Pleasant to wear Often do not completely seal in the ear Generally not a good idea for >85dB for prolonged periods

21 Hearing protection Ear Muffs
Must fit snugly – one size fits most people Generally very effective if worn properly – beware of glasses Tend to be uncomfortable in hot weather Special types available eg. for wearing safety helmets, for workers near high voltage Can be shared but cleaning routine required

22 Hearing protection The effectiveness of hearing protection varies according to type, manufacture and correct wearing. Most will reduce noise at the ear by about dBA Don’t over-protect or warnings may not be audible

23 Hearing protection Ensure it is suitable for the job
Regular maintenance & record keeping required Home-made protectors don’t work (eg cotton wool) Wear it when you are supposed to – you MUST BY LAW

24 Hearing protection Try to limit your time in noisy areas
Remember the effect is cumulative

25 Hearing protection Protect your hearing in a social context too eg:
Loud music Personal stereos Car entertainment DIY & garden tools

26 Don’t take noise for granted!
Hearing damage creeps up on you Once it has happened, there is no cure

27 Further Advice? Contact Safety Services
The Health & Safety Executive have a useful leaflet which can be found:

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