Do you have to raise your voice to be heard at work? Shouting may not mean your boss is angry - it could signal a workplace noise problem.
Around 20% of British workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels on the job, according to a scientific report from the Workplace Health Expert Committee (WHEC). This noise risks permanent hearing damage over time.
Although occupational deafness cases have declined, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) urges vigilance. Try their "shout test" - if you're shouting to be heard from 2 metres away, you likely have a noise issue.
"Preserving hearing at work is crucial, as noise can cause temporary or permanent damage," says HSE noise expert Chris Steel. "But balance is key. Too little noise control could harm hearing, while too much could isolate workers and lead to accidents."
How can businesses protect employees' hearing?
Assess noise risks and implement control measures, like sound insulation or quieter equipment.
Ensure proper use of hearing protection. Check it's in good condition, worn consistently in loud areas, fits correctly, and provides adequate noise reduction.
Give workers' ears a break. Rotate them into quieter tasks periodically.
Empower staff to speak up about noise concerns and deafness symptoms like muffled hearing. Take their experiences seriously.
Educate staff on noise risks and safe listening. Post warning signs in loud zones mandating hearing protection.
Healthy hearing means a safer, more productive workplace. By managing noise risks responsibly, businesses can help employees' ears last a lifetime. Review HSE guidance on occupational noise control and make hearing health a priority.