Ears Hearing

Your guide to the protection of personal hearing

The Noise Regulations require you to: provide Hearing Protectors to employees and ensure that they use them fully and properly when their noise exposure exceeds the upper exposure values ; provide Hearing Protectors to employees when they request them and their noise exposure is between the lower and upper exposure values ; identify Hearing Protection Zones – workplace areas where they are exposed to noise

To ensure that protectors are fully worn (every time they are needed) and properly (fitted or properly inserted), you will need to have supervisory and training systems. Consider also the use of spot inspections and audits. Choosing appropriate hearing protection devices. In selecting the hearing protectors you provide to your employees, you should take into account the following: choose an appropriate protective factor sufficient to eliminate noise risks but not so much protection that wearers become isolated; consider the work and working environment, such as physical activity, comfort and hygiene; compatibility with other protective equipment, such as hard hats, masks and eyes.

If they are exposed above the lower levels of exposure action, you should at least tell them: their likely noise exposure and the risk of hearing this creates; what you are doing to control risks and exposures; where and how to obtain hearing protection; how to identify and report deficiencies in noise control equipment and hearing protection; what are their duties under the Noise Regulations; what are they doing? Representatives of employees and security:

Discuss your risk assessment and risk control plans with them, including any suggestions for average week-long exposure, hearing protection selection, and your health monitoring program. Health surveillance: providing health surveillance, you must provide health surveillance for all your employees who are likely to be exposed more frequently than the upper exposure action values, or who are at risk for any reason, e.g. already suffering from hearing loss or are particularly sensitive to damage.

For further medical advice, a suitable doctor, nurse or audiologist needs to review the results and ensure that employees with poor hearing or rapid hearing loss are referred. You should receive results that include information on the fitness of an employee to continue to work in noisy environments. However, if that employee has given consent, you should only receive information about any hearing damage that an individual employee has. You will also need to see anonymized, grouped health information that should be made available to representatives of employees or security.

Where noise-related hearing damage is identified, further harm to the individual should be prevented, taking into account the medical advice you receive on fitness. You will need to consider what action you need to take on the basis of both individual and grouped information; this should include reviewing your risk assessment, any control measures you have in place, and your procedures for health monitoring. You will need to keep health records that contain information on health monitoring outcomes and work fitness. Health records must be kept separate from any medical results that are confidential.

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