Noise – Health and Safety


Noise – Health and Safety. Loud noise at work can damage your hearing. This usually happens gradually and it may only be  when the damage caused by noise combines with hearing loss due to ageing that  people realise how impaired their hearing has become.

Why is dealing with noise important?

Noise  at work can cause hearing damage that is permanent and disabling. This can be gradual, from  exposure to noise over time, but damage can also be caused by sudden, extremely  loud, noises. The damage is disabling in that it can stop people being able to  understand speech, keep up with conversations or use the telephone.

Hearing loss is not the only problem. People may  develop tinnitus (ringing, whistling, buzzing or humming in the ears), a  distressing condition which can lead to disturbed sleep.

Noise  at work can interfere with communications and make warnings harder to hear. It  can also reduce a person’s awareness of his or her surroundings. These factors  can lead to safety risks – putting people at risk of injury or death.

Do I have a noise problem?

You will probably need to do something about the noise if any of the  following apply:

  • the noise is intrusive-like  a busy street, a vacuum cleaner or a crowded restaurant, or worse than  intrusive, for most of the working day
  • your employees  have to raise their voices to have a normal conversation when about 2 metres  apart for at least part of the day
  • your employees  use noisy powered tools or machinery for more than half an hour a day
  • your sector is  one known to have noisy tasks, e.g. construction, demolition or road repair,  woodworking, plastics processing, engineering, textile manufacture, general  fabrication, forging or stamping, paper or board making, canning or bottling,  foundries, waste and recycling
  • there are noises  due to impacts (such as hammering, drop forging, pneumatic impact tools etc.),  explosive sources such as cartridge-operated tools or detonators, or guns

Situations  where you will need to consider safety issues in relation to noise include  where:

  • you use warning  sounds to avoid or alert to dangerous situations
  • working  practices rely on verbal communications
  • there  is work around mobile machinery or traffic

How  can I control noise?

There are many ways of reducing noise and noise  exposure. Nearly all businesses can decide on practical, cost-effective actions  to control noise risks, if necessary by looking at the advice available. For more information on Noise – Health and Safety please see:

HSE’s noise at work website

First,  think about how to remove the source of noise altogether, for example housing a  noisy machine where it cannot be heard by workers. If that is not possible,  investigate:

  • using quieter  equipment or a different, quieter process
  • engineering/technical controls to reduce at source the noise  produced by a machine or process
  • using screens, barriers, enclosures and absorbent materials to reduce the noise on its path to  the people exposed
  • designing and laying out of the workplace to create quiet workstations
  • limiting the time people spend in noisy areas

Did you know? We offer Health and safety awareness training which is a one day course and covers Noise – Health and Safety:

The health and safety awareness training provides a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental issues identifying individual responsibilities, what the employers and employees duties are and what should be done if they think anyone’s health and safety is being put at risk.

We are confident that we can offer you a competitive price for all your Health and Safety training requirements. Call us directly on 0800 774 7034 and we will be able to discuss your requirements.