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Ear Protection

Ear Protection

Large areas located on the head are extremely sensitive when exposed e.g. eyes to debris, sinuses and respiratory system to dust etc. Your ears are no different and if anything are more likely to receive permanent damage from trauma during work due to their nature.

Unlike goggles or a respiratory which don’t particular interfere with your sight or ability to talk, ear defenders or plug block the ability to hear speech (a feature of the protective equipment blocking a wide variation of decibels) and thusly workers tend not to wear them as they will be unable to hear others.

Within the UK alone, over 17,000 people have been diagnosed and suffer from hearing related health issues such as tinnitus and even deafness due to excessive noise within their working environment.

Some basic guidelines are listed below that you can follow to help identify potentially harmful amounts of noise:

  • Is the noise being created intrusive? – This could be equipment such as a vacuum cleaner or a location like a busy street.
  • If you are more than 2 metres away from the equipment do you still need to raise your voice in order to conduct a conversation with someone?
  • Is the situation and environment you are working in naturally the cause of a lot of noise? E.g. a construction site and / or road repair.
  • During your work are there any high pitched sounds being created via processes such as explosives, a pneumatic impact tool or hammering?

Failure to understand, identify and prevent noise hazards can (and will with enough exposure) cause noise induced deafness, an incurable and irreversible condition. Below are some of the basic indicators you may be starting to show symptoms of hearing damage:

  • It becomes difficult or impossible to hear simple conversations.
  • A symptom often noticed by other people is that you tend to have audio devices (such as TV’s or portable media player) set too loud.
  • When you are in a quiet environment you hear ringing, whistling or buzzing within your ears (this is more commonly diagnosed as tinnitus).
  • You begin to loose the ability to hear speech sounds such as ‘D’, ‘S’ and ‘T’.

With Hire Station every aspect of your personal safety is taken with serious care. We provide various options for ear protection from our 5 pack ear plugs through to our higher grade ear defenders, perfect for the most noise intensive jobs.

We recommend wearing all forms of protective equipment when undertaking every project. If you need any further help please don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions.

Noise and the Law

Under ‘The Control of Noise at work Regulations 2005’ employers are now required to take action by making sure they have in place preventative measures that will reduce or eliminate the risk to your health and safety from noise at work.

There are 5 key aspects to the 2005 regulations to which, by law, your employer must abide by in reducing the risk of hearing damage.

Your employer must:

1. Provide its employees with hearing protection if the employee requests it and if the exposure levels are between the lower and upper action values.

2. If the action values exceed the upper levels the employer must provide hearing protection and make sure the employee uses it and uses it correctly.

3. Your employer must identify ‘Hearing Protection Zones’ – these are areas in which hearing protection is compulsory and that the areas are clearly labelled and marked out.

4. The employees must also be provided with the correct training and information regarding hearing protection, how to use the provided protection and take proper care of the protection.

5. The employer must also ensure that not only is the correct protection is issued, but also that it is being used and maintained correctly.

The 'Dos and Don'ts' of Hearing Protection

The Dos

  • Make sure that your available protection options offer enough protection - you should aim to bring the noise level at the ear down to 85dB or lower (similar to a food blender or the average factory).
  • Target to use of hearing protection at noisy jobs and tasks (examples would be the use of equipment such as chainsaws, lawn mowers, breakers, brush cutters etc.).
  • Select hearing protection which is suitable for the working environmental - you need to factor hygiene and ergonomics into this.
  • Think about what other possible PPE the hearing protection will be used with (this could include safety goggles, a hard hat etc.).
  • Provide a range of suitable protection to your employees so they can choice which one best suits them (as long at the protection meets the correct standards and levels of protection).

The Don'ts

  • Do not provide hearing protection which removes too much noise, not only can this lead to feelings isolation and an unwillingness to wear them but also in a working environment can be a hazard as the work may not hear calls for assistance, or warnings of danger.
  • Do not make the use of hearing protection compulsory in areas where the law doesn't require it to be, again this can lead to the unwillingness to wear the protection.
  • Do not have a 'blanket' policy approach to the use of hearing PPE. It is much better to target its correct use and properly educate your employees on the correct usage.

Maintaining Your Protection

Maintaining your hearing protection is relativity simply, straightforward and has a very low cost. Hearing protection should be kept clean and in good condition (no cracks or tears etc.), that the seals are undamaged and that the protection has received no unofficial modifications.

With compressible earplugs you should make sure the packaging hasn't been breached and the plugs are still soft and pliable.

Checks you can do

Apart from making sure your employees are wearing and using there hearing protection correctly there are some additional checks you can do to make sure all your employees are kept as safe as possible.

  • You can include the wearing of hearing protection within your safety policy.
  • Place somebody in charge of issuing hearing protection and making sure replacements are readily available.
  • Carry out spot checks to make sure the rules and regulations you have in place are being followed correctly. If the spot checks results in repeated failures you may need to follow your companies disciplinary procedures.
  • Ensure all managers and supervision 'lead by example' and wear the correct hearing protection at all times whilst in designated protection zones.
  • Ensure that only the people who are needed to be in these areas are in the protection zones and DO NOT stay longer than is necessary.

If you have any further questions regarding hearing protection with Hire Station please do not hesitate to contact us today!