Noisy workplace? How employers can help prevent tinnitus

Tinnitus is a common affliction, and yet knowledge about the condition is rather vague.

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Noisy workplace? How employers can help prevent tinnitus

Tinnitus is a common affliction, and yet knowledge about the condition is rather vague, which is surprising given that approximately 1 in 10 people are affected by it. Many misconceive it as a simple ringing in the ears, and some aren’t even aware that they’re being exposed to it.

It’s often experienced as a constant ringing, buzzing, whistling or hissing in the inner ears, which on its own sounds like a mild inconvenience. Unfortunately, ongoing effects of tinnitus can be devastating, affecting day-to-day living and can lead to insomnia, anxiety, stress and depression.

There are various circumstances that can inflict this damage, and depending on the cause, sufferers may also be sensitive to loud noises, experience balance problems, or be prone to hearing loss. There is no quick fix, but a variety of treatments can be used to help manage the condition.

What causes tinnitus?

Several causes have been identified, some of which include exposure to a very loud one-off sound, lengthy exposure to high volumes of noise, or a blow to the head or neck. Of course, it can happen at any time, but some workplaces carry greater risk than others.

Who is most at risk?

The most hazardous of professions include places where employees are more liable to receive head injuries, such as construction sites, farms and in warehouses.

Those surrounded by noisy environments are also at risk, including airport ground staff, construction and manufacturing employees, nightclub staff, call centre staff and military personal.

How can I prevent it?

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 insist that employers reduce exposure for workers if there is a daily or weekly average noise-exposure level. They must also take reasonable steps to reduce noise and provide hearing protection if it reaches an exposure level of ‘85dB(A)’. Not only that, but no worker must be exposed to noise above ‘87Db’.

The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992 require employers in the construction industry to provide suitable head protection where there is a risk of injury.

All workplaces have a responsibility to assess and control risks to employee health and safety. So, make sure noise exposure is a consideration in your risk assessments, and consider all situations that might expose a worker to a head injury.

If an employee experiences tinnitus or other hearing problems because of your negligence, you could face expensive legal action. Discuss your Employers’ Liability insurance with Weir Insurance to find out if this risk is covered by your policy.