Even though it was back in 2018, not everyone knows that the new PPE Regulations reclassified hearing protection, moving it up from category II to the complex class, category III. It now joins equipment designed to protect against serious risks such as falls from height, chainsaw cuts and contact with substances hazardous to health.
With Tinnitus Awareness week on 7 February, it’s a good time to remember why this change happened. We also need to remind ourselves of the invisible danger of sound and its effect on vital organs that we must protect from sounds that can cause life-changing, long-term damage.
Unlike dangers that cause immediate damage, noise often has a delayed impact on the user. Not only that, it’s also an invisible risk that sometimes doesn’t get the protection it needs to ensure people do not suffer from permanent hearing problems later down the line.
So, what do you need to consider when it comes to the invisible risk of hearing loss? And how loud is ‘too loud’ anyway? And when thinking about sound levels, do you know you also need to be aware of exposure times, and knowing how long sounds are safe for before they start doing damage?
The main rule is, for 85dB (decibels) and over, hearing protection should be provided. 85dB is the level at which noise becomes unsafe without the use of hearing protection. This rule does not relate to social noise however, which is where your own judgement comes into play about the risk.
For sounds under 85dB, there should be no need for hearing protection, although if you work in a noisy environment of up to 80dB, you should be trained and educated to understand the risks and hearing protection should be made available.
In partnership with the British Safety Industry Federation, Tower has produced a fact file entitled ‘Listen Today, Hear Tomorrow’ to highlight the importance of hearing protection and give tips on how to get the most from it. Contact me for a copy or visit our website www.wearetower.com
Mark Dowling, Divisional Managing Director