Information on Work Related Noise and Hearing Loss

  1. Introduction
  2. Suggested steps
  3. Useful links to further information
  4. Other useful references or other resources


When people are exposed to high levels of noise in the workplace, it can lead to permanent hearing damage. This damage can cause poorer hearing ability (general hearing loss), as well as a condition known as tinnitus, which manifests itself as a constant ringing in the ears. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have identified noise induced hearing loss as a considerable occupational disease with over 170000 people in work reported to suffer from deafness, tinnitus or other ear conditions resulting from excessive exposure to noise at work.

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 place a general duty on employers to reduce the risk of hearing damage to the lowest level reasonably practicable. Noise levels are measured in A-weighted decibels (dB(A)), which reflect the normal ability of the ear to hear sounds at different frequencies. Noise exposure is assessed in terms of the daily 8-hour equivalent average noise level.

The employer is required to take certain actions, such as the provision of hearing protection, information, instruction and training etc., when the daily exposure level is likely to exceed 80dB(A). This is known as the lower exposure action level. When the daily average exposure level is likely to exceed 85dB(A), the upper exposure action level, further management action is required, including controlling the noise at source and designating hearing protection zones where the use of ear protection is mandatory. There is also an additional limit of 87 dB(A), which must not be exceeded, but which takes into account the effect of ear exposure. The peak sound pressure levels (C weighted) must also not be exceeded.

The following points are provided as general guidance until the new noise regulations come into force in February 2006.

Suggested steps are:

Useful links for further information on occupational noise:

Other useful resources:

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