Noise induced hearing loss is the one of the most common forms of hearing loss in the UK. In fact, there are over 9 million hard of hearing in the UK, which represents about 1 in 7 out of a population of 65 plus million. Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is caused by sustained exposure to high levels of noise. The degree of any resultant hearing loss will depend on the level of the noise and also the duration of exposure
1. Educate your employees - People who work in noisy environment or use noisy equipment should be made aware as to the potentials dangers of noise on their hearing.
2. Perform regular noise assessments - Any working environment which has noise levels exceeding 85 db should be highlighted and appropriate actions enforced, such as hearing protection being made compulsory.
3. Clearly mark noise hazards to reinforce the dangers to employees and visitors.
4. Have a noise reduction policy in place - If possible move to quieter processes and operate quieter machinery. Of course, this may not be a feasible change to undertake overnight, so define a long term strategy.
5. Offer hearing protection - Hearing protection in the shape of earplugs, ear muffs and other aids should be warn in areas which have been marked for noise control.
6. Train employees on hearing protection use - Employees should not only be given hearing protection, they should be familiar on why and how to effectively use and maintain these aids.
7. Encourage reporting of noisy environments - For many businesses, the working environment is ever changing. Employees should have a means to report noisy processes, machinery and environments which hasn't been targeted for noise control.
8. Offer regular hearing tests - Those who work in noisy environments should have access to hearing health professionals. In this case, a hearing test taken at a local hearing center can often pick up on early signs of noise induced hearing loss.