The Construction Industry – Noisy By Nature
When it comes to health and safety in the workplace, the Safety Fabrications team strive to bring our readers the best and latest advice possible at all times as we recognise our responsibility to provide a useful resource for all of those who work in the construction industry. As such, we strive to go beyond our remit of providing advice for those who work at height and offer additional advice on all aspects of health and safety at work. Today we’re taking a look at the dangers of noise in the workplace so that our readers know how to protect their hearing and avoid hearing loss due to noise in the workplace.
There’s plenty of legislation in place to protect those in the vicinity of construction sites from the noise incurred while work is taking place. The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 allows the planning authority to attach conditions to planning decisions and noise can be taken into consideration. The Control of Pollution Act 1974 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990 places specific duties on building contractors to ensure that noise, smoke and dust is kept to a minimum. The local authority’s Environmental Health Section has the power to enforce these legal requirements.
When it comes to protecting Britain’s construction site workers from noise damage, the Control of Noise at Work Regulations were introduced in 2005. The Regulations have been formulated with a view to protecting personnel against risk to their health and safety arising from exposure to noise at work and are applicable in all sectors, including construction. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations are made under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and apply in all work places in Great Britain. While construction sites are noisy by nature, this doesn’t mean that construction workers need to suffer hearing damage, there is plenty of legislation in place to protect workers here in the UK.
The Regulations place a duty on the employer (and the self-employed) to make a suitable assessment of the risk from noise to the health and safety of employees and identify the measures which need to be taken to meet the requirements of the Regulations.
Employers who carry out work which is likely to expose employees to noise should first ascertain if there is any way of reducing the levels of noise to below an upper exposure action value. If reducing the noise is not possible, then the employer must ensure that personal hearing protectors are available upon request to employees who are exposed.
However, it’s not just the employers who hold a responsibility when it comes to noise levels at work. It’s the responsibility of employees to make full and proper use of personal hearing protectors that are provided by the employer and of any other control measures that are provided by the employer in compliance with his duties under the Regulations. If an employee should discover a defect in any personal hearing protectors or other control measures, he has a duty to report it to his employer as soon as is practicable.