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Noisy workplace? How employers can help prevent tinnitus
Approximately 1 in 10 people are affected by tinnitus, but how much do you really know about the condition? Are you or your employees exposed?
Isn’t it just a ringing in the ears?
Most often experienced as a constant ringing, buzzing, whistling or hissing in the ears or head, the effects of tinnitus can be devastating, affecting day-to-day living and causing insomnia, anxiety, stress and depression.
Depending on what has caused the problem, sufferers may also be sensitive to loud noises, experience balance problems or hearing loss. There is no quick fix, but a variety of treatments can be used to help manage the condition.
What causes it?
Several causes have been identified, including exposure to a very loud one-off noise, prolonged exposure to high levels of noise, or a blow to the head or neck. Of course, it can happen at any time but some workplaces carry greater risk exposure than others.
Who is most at risk?
Hazardous professions include those where employees are more at risk of head injuries, such as people working on 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 personnel.
How can I prevent it?
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 require employers to reduce noise exposure for workers if there is a daily or weekly average noise-exposure level of 80dB(A), and they must take reasonable steps to reduce noise and provide hearing protection if it reaches 85dB(A). 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. 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 as a result of your negligence, you could face expensive legal action. Discuss your Employers’ Liability insurance with The Insurance Centre to find out if this risk is covered by your policy.
Tinnitus Awareness Week
This year’s Tinnitus Awareness Week takes place from 5-11 February 2018. The British Tinnitus Association works nationally and internationally to raise awareness of the condition and educate employers and workers who may be exposed to noisy environments.
Find out more at www.tinnitusweek.com