“Noise doesn’t kill people. Right?”
About the Event
On Friday 27th September, RVT Group hosted the Action on Nose Summit at The British Medical Association House in Euston, London. The event was launched to help raise awareness about the negative effects that excessive noise can have on your hearing.
To kick start the event, not-for-profit organisations, the Hearing Conservation Association and Action on Hearing Loss, presented hard hitting statistics about tinnitus and hearing loss.
Construction industry specialist, Chris Chapman from the Building Safety Group, then shared a report which highlighted common noise breaches on site, and explained that a work-related compensation claim for hearing loss in both ears can be up to £70,000!
After a quick coffee, RVT's Kevin Dupont took to the stage to demonstrate the impressive sound attenuation properties of Soundex. Kevin played a recording of a common cutting noise that registered at about 82 decibels on the Hand-held Monitex Noise Monitor; he then placed the speaker in the Soundex demonstration enclosure, and we saw the reading drop to 61 decibels. The idea was to show delegates how easy it is to reduce noise on site by using the correct equipment.
Finally, Lucian D'Arco, Group HSE leader at O'Keefe Construction, took a more scientific approach. He shared information about the inner workings of the ear and how sound waves travel. He then gave practical advice on how to educate our workforce and better protect workers on site.
Survey Stats Revealed
During the networking sessions, delegates were asked to complete a questionnaire about the sound attenuation products they currently use. Analysis of the results revealed that 73% of people surveyed had used acoustic barriers or curtains on past projects; furthermore 41% were using them on a weekly basis.
During RVT's presentation, Kevin explained that acoustic enclosures are often much more effective than using curtains alone, so it was great to see that 27% of people surveyed are already making great using of cutting enclosures. A further 27% commented that they favour solutions that are adaptable and can be tailored for the specific environment.
The questionnaire then went on to ask delegates what they prioritised when looking for an acoustic solution, and it came as no surprise that 60% of delegates mentioned "effectiveness", "sound attenuation" and "performance".
Having second guessed this response, we then asked delegates whether they felt that there ought to be a standard to regulate the quality and performance of temporary acoustic barriers on site, and a resounding 93% said "yes". A further 75% agreed that barriers should be certified as fire resistant.
At this point it is important to mention that 75% of the audience held a health and safety related position, whilst the remaining 25% were site managers, contracts managers and directors.
Interestingly, only 23% of delegates surveyed said they held sole responsibility for ordering acoustic solutions, 25% said that they were a joint decision maker, and an over-whelming 52% said that they were not responsible for ordering acoustic solutions at all. This left us questioning why? Why would a company hire a health and safety manager and then give them no influence over the health & safety products ordered?
The event received an abundance of positive feedback, and we are pleased to see so many companies taking an interest in noise control.
Clare Forshaw from The HCA made a bold statement during her presentation, but it is one that we agree with,
"Health is the poor relation to safety, and noise is the poor relation to health. Why is this? It's because noise doesn't kill people, right? Wrong. Impaired hearing is one of the biggest contributing factors to accidents in the work place; not to mention the link between excessive noise and cardio-vascular disease. We need to start taking noise more seriously, it is killing our workforce."
Our survey revealed that the construction industry are looking for a sound attenuation solution that is; effective at reducing noise levels, is easy to manoeuvre around site, can be adapted to suit the project requirements, can be used in conjunction with other temporary structures on site (such as fencing), is fire and weather resistant, and comes in at a good price. Fortunately, RVT's Soundex fits the bill! However, it is important to remember that engineering controls such as acoustic barriers are just one element of the hierarchy of control and there are a lot more actions that can be taken to help protect worker's hearing on site.