2 million Britons currently work in harmful levels of noise

We were alarmed to recently read that more than 2 million Britons currently work in harmful levels of noise and are at risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss.

Why is there still such a problem with noise-induced hearing loss 17 years after the Control of Noise at Work Regulations were brought in?

The piece by Dr David Greenberg on the British Safety Council’s website explained how large numbers of construction and manufacturing workers and ex-military personnel have a hearing impairment. Noise induced hearing loss is the source of many thousands of insurance claims, and is the most commonly reported occupational disease in Europe. And it is entirely preventable. So why is still so little being done about it?

Challenges and frustrations

Hearing loss can take months or even years to manifest itself, and it’s an invisible problem. While employers are obliged by law to give their employees hearing protectors if they are likely to be exposed to daily or weekly average noise levels of 80dB or more, they are often given earplugs that don’t fit properly, or other hearing protection that’s simply not worn or compromises workers’ safety in other ways.

Of course, employers won’t take this seriously if no one’s checking up on them, so Dr Greenberg insists that there should be more rigour around the enforcement of the regulations. And noise-induced hearing loss should be formalised in health and safety legislation. It seems bizarre to us at The Hearing Clinic that in 2023 this is still not the case.

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