Noise on site can create issues that lead to safety risks and damaged hearing. This damage is permanent and has been linked to irritability, fatigue, stress, depression, impaired memory and reduced work performance.
Hearing damage results from exposure to noise at high levels over time – eg. 85dB for eight hours – or from a sudden, extremely loud noise, e.g. 130dB. The sound affects hair cells in the ears, which die and no longer send signals to the brain. High-frequency hair cells are most easily damaged and this affects the ability to hear high-pitched sounds, like birds singing.
An assessment is required when noise is predicted to reach 80dB. Health checks for workers are needed when noise meets or exceeds 85dB. Prevention measures should ensure that workers aren't exposed to noise levels above 87dB - taking into account personal hearing protection.
Work methods and equipment should be addressed first, through elimination or substitution. For example, material could be supplied pre-cut to reduce noise on site, while a barrier positioned to block the free flow of sound waves will control noise at source,.
For more information on how to manage noise to protect workers' health, download our full white paper.
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (the Noise Regulations) are in place to protect workers’ hearing from excessive noise. These require employers to eliminate or reduce risks to health and safety from noise at work.