In certain workplaces there are levels of noise which are so extreme that they can cause temporary or permanent damage to someone’s hearing, or, in severe cases, permanent deafness. For this reason, workers’ ears must be protected.
The use of hearing protection in the workplace is governed by The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. Employers who fail to comply with these guidelines face a multitude of negative consequences, from large fines and litigation, to permanent damage to a company’s reputation. In addition, by not providing employees with the correct protective equipment, you can lower workforce morale and increase incidences of absence due to illness.
Safety standards relating to hearing protection
The use of hearing protection is controlled by one principal industry safety standard: EN 352. This has 10 parts, each relating to different types of hearing protection. In addition, there are other standards to consider, such as EN 13819, which details the physical and acoustic testing methods used to test hearing protection, and EN 458, which details requirements relating to the choice, use, care and maintenance of workplace hearing protection.
Making the right choices in hearing protection
To identify which hearing protection is correct for your workforce, it’s important, firstly, to ensure a risk assessment has been carried out. This must be done at a time when the environmental noise is at its loudest. Taking this step will provide a clear understanding of the factors that you need the hearing protection to protect against.
It is also worth noting that hearing protection must not block out sound altogether, as this could be unsafe in itself. For example, workers may not be able to hear an oncoming vehicle or warning shout.
A range of workplace hearing protection that complies with all relevant standards is available from Contego Safety Solutions, including:
- Standard earmuffs
- Standard earplugs
- Safety helmet-mounted earmuffs
- Level-dependent earmuffs
- Active noise-reduction earmuffs
- Earmuffs with safety-related audio input
- Level-dependent earplugs
- Earplugs with safety-related audio input
- Entertainment audio earmuffs
- Entertainment audio earplugs
Ensuring hearing protection works
Providing the right hearing protection is the first step to protecting your workforce; the second is to ensure that it is used correctly, in order to gain the maximum benefit from it. Hearing protection should be:
- Put on or inserted before exposure to an excessive noise environment
- Fitted and adjusted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
- Well-fitting and comfortable to wear
- Worn at all times when the wearer is in the excessive noise environment
- Properly maintained and checked in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
- In good supply
- Stored in a dry, clean and uncontaminated environment
Calculating the level of noise exposure
Ascertaining the level of noise that employees are exposed to can be worked out using Health and Safety Executive noise-exposure calculators.
Having calculated the level of noise exposure, the next step is to work out the Single Number Rating (SNR) of the hearing protection that you need in order to comply with The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.
Our Guide to Hearing Protection provides detailed information on all the relevant standards and what’s involved in choosing the correct protective equipment.
By using this information, you will ensure that your company is fully compliant with all the relevant industry standards and that your employees feel protected and can do their jobs safely, efficiently and to the highest standard.
Contego Safety Solutions stocks a wide range of corporate workwear, protective clothing and PPE, including our WEARMASTER® range. We also provide a bespoke uniform design and manufacturing service to ensure that you get precisely what you are looking for in a company uniform.
The friendly and expert team at Contego Safety Solutions is always on hand to give advice and guidance on the right PPE and protective clothing for your needs. Contact us now on 0800 122 3323 or email@example.com to discuss your requirements.