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Protect Your Hearing

Excessive noise at work causes around 17,000 workers each year to suffer deafness or ear conditions such as ringing in the ears. The good news is that with the right measures and Personal Protective Equipment, hearing damage caused by work is preventable, but sadly, once hearing has been damaged or lost, it can be impossible to restore.

You can get lots of information about risks from noise at this special HSE website.

Are you or your workers at risk?

You are at risk if you can answer 'yes' to any of these questions about the noise where you work:

Is the noise intrusive for most of the working day?

Do you have to raise your voice to have a normal conversation when about 2m apart for at least part of the day?

Do you use noisy powered tools or machinery for over 30 minutes each day?

Do you work in a noisy industry, eg construction, demolition or road repair; woodworking; plastics processing; engineering; textile manufacture; general fabrication; forging, pressing or stamping; paper or board making; canning or bottling; foundries?

Are there noises because of impacts or explosive sources?

Do you have muffled hearing at the end of the day?

Symptoms and early signs of hearing loss

Conversation becomes difficult or impossible

Your family complains about the television being too loud

You have trouble using the telephone

You find it difficult to catch sounds like 't', 'd' and 's', so you confuse similar words

Permanent tinnitus (ringing, whistling, buzzing or humming in the ears) is present.

Click here for

to help you assess your level of hearing risk.


The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (the Noise Regulations) came into force for all industry sectors (bar music and entertainment) in Great Britain on 6 April 2006.

The aim of the Noise Regulations is to ensure that workers' hearing is protected from excessive noise at their place of work, which could cause them to lose their hearing and/or to suffer from tinnitus.

Employers must provide hearing protection and hearing protection zones when noise reaches 85 decibels (daily or weekly average exposure) and employers must assess the risk to workers' health and provide them with information and training when daily or weekly average noise is 80 decibels.

There are also levels of noise exposure which must not be exceeded. These are called exposure limit values:

daily or weekly exposure of 87 dB - Peak sound pressure of 140 dB.

Guidance on the 2005 Regulations can be found in the HSE publications

Noise at work: A brief guide to controlling the risks Controlling Noise at Work

Cost-effective solutions that you may easily adapt for your workplace

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (Noise Regulations 2005) require employers to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to noise at work. Employees have duties under the Regulations too.

Employers must:

Assess the risks to your employees from noise at work;

Take action to reduce the noise exposure that produces those risks

Provide your employees with hearing protection if you cannot reduce the noise exposure enough by using other methods;

Make sure the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded;

Provide your employees with information, instruction and training;

Carry out health surveillance where there is a risk to health.

Hearing protection should not be used as an alternative to controlling noise by technical and organisational means, for example, buying quieter machinery.

Noise: Don't lose your hearing to your employees to remind them to wear their hearing protection.


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