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Noise Legislation

Thousands of employees develop hearing problems every year as a result of being exposed to excessive noise in the workplace - even though it is easily preventable.

Under The Control of Noise at Work Regulations, employers have a legal responsibility to protect workers from high noise levels in order to prevent hearing loss or tinnitus which causes a constant ringing, buzzing or whistling sound in the ear.

However, such hearing problems are still common medical conditions. The severity of the condition depends entirely on the level of noise and the length of time exposed to it but in severe cases it can lead to complete hearing loss and once the damage is done the effects are irreversible.

Employers are required by law to protect employees when noise reaches certain levels or else they can face prosecution, so noise levels should be monitored in any area where it could get out of hand. The regulations also require employers to ensure noise is minimised before resorting to ear protection, which means installing sound reduction equipment and taking noise levels into account when ordering new equipment or machinery. When noise levels become a problem, a specialist risk assessment should be carried out to estimate exposure and work out what can be done to comply with the law.

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