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					Listen Very Carefully …
IntaTeam News 2006

Exposure to high levels of noise causes stress, tinnitus and permanent hearing

Remember, there is no effective cure for either Tinnitus or Noise Induced
Hearing Loss.

Tinnitus is manifest as a continuous hum, whine or whistling noise caused by
damage to the active tuning mechanism of the inner ear. The Tinnitus masks
‘real’ noise received by the ear effectively causing hearing loss and also causing
other problems including stress and difficulty sleeping.

Tinnitus can be triggered by a single exposure to a loud noise!

Prolonged exposure to high levels of noise damages receptors in the inner ear
causing progressive hearing loss.

It is a cruel fact that the ear is most susceptible to damage in frequency range 4
to 6 kHz, … precisely the range that is used for speech!

Hearing loss affects a person’s social life as well as employment by impairing
their ability to communicate with family, friends or co-workers and to be aware of
what is going on around them. This can result in social isolation and depression
and the person may also be at a higher risk of having an accident.

There are currently around 170,000 people in the UK suffering as a result of
Tinnitus or Noise Induced Hearing Loss.


Research has now shown that exposure to noise at the around the 90dB(A ) 2nd
action level set in the current Noise at Work Regulations still results in
unacceptable levels of hearing loss. By reducing exposure to 85 dB(A) the risk of
hearing damage is significantly reduced.

Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005

These updated regulations come into force on 6 April 2005.

The biggest (but not the only) change is the reduction in action levels and limits.
The main ones being

Lower Action Level = 80 dB(A) (reduced from 85 dB(A)
Upper Action Level = 85 dB(A) (reduced from 90 dB(A).

On paper these reductions don’t look that significant until you realise that on the
decibel scale a reduction of 3 dB(A) equates to a HALVING of exposure!

Another key change is that where workers are regularly exposed to noise above
the upper action level it will become mandatory to provide Health Surveillance for
noise induced hearing loss.

This means that many more employers will now be ‘caught’ by the regulations
and that firms with existing noise management programmes will have to extend
their controls.
In summary if, as an employer, your workforce is likely to be exposed to levels of
noise above the limits specified by the regulations you are required to;

   •   Assess the risk to your employees
   •   Take action to reduce the noise exposure producing those risks
   •   Provide employees with hearing protection (if you cannot reduce the noise
       exposure by other methods)
   •   Make sure that the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded
   •   Provide employees with information instruction and training
   •   Carry out Health Surveillance where there is a risk to health.

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