Occupational noise exposure is one of the most significant health and safety hazards at work. Excessive noise at work, as well as accidents owing to noise disruption and communication difficulties, are just a few of the consequences.
The degree of hearing loss is generally cumulative, increasing with both the length of time exposed and the level of noise. While occupational noise-induced hearing loss is almost entirely preventable once acquired the damage is irreversible.
The issue of noise at work is not limited to heavy manufacturing industries but also affects a wide range of sectors, including education, entertainment, agriculture, and the service sectors. There are strict noise regulations in line with the EU’s Noise Directive that thoroughly describe how to handle workplace noise. The framework directive establishes the overall guidelines for prevention.
There are several precautions you can take to prevent hearing loss at work:
No, there should not be a reliance on personal hearing protection (such as earplugs) when there are other measures available to remove or control the risk. Employers are required to address or reduce noise hazards at the source and should notify employees of the risks and provide them with hearing protection options.
ISO 1999:1990 is the standard for measuring exposure to noise among workers. The goal of noise measurements is to verify action levels set at 80, 85, and 87 decibels. Each action level defines what measures must be taken to avoid hearing loss among employees.
Sound level meters such as SV 971A or noise dosimeters like SV 104 are used to measure workplace noise.