We recently revealed that one-third (34%) of employees who require hearing protection for work purposes are not provided with it by their employer. This came from research that took place among employers in all business sizes across the UK.
Employers themselves acknowledge that they are not providing the necessary hearing protection, and by failing to do so, they may be putting their employees’ hearing at risk.
Noise above 85 decibels can cause permanent and disabling hearing damage, and much like your eyesight, the damage cannot be reversed. Poor hearing makes conversations difficult and can lead to those affected becoming isolated. However, Under the Noise at Work Regulations (2005), it is the responsibility of employers to protect their employees from exposure to excessive noise and noise-induced hearing loss.
The survey went on to look at the types of hearing protection offered:
What types of hearing protecting do you provide?
- Overhead earmuff 42 %
- Foam earplug 37 %
- Custom moulded earplug 26 %
- Ear canal caps 21 %
- Flanged earplug 20 %
- Integrated earmuff 18 %
- Banded earplug 17 %
It is good to see that at least some hearing protection is being offered. Employers may feel that what they have provided is adequate, but it is important that needs and risks are fully assessed so that the most appropriate type of hearing protection is made available.
Custom-moulded ear plugs are generally accepted to be the most effective solution for hearing protection, yet these are provided by just a quarter (26%) of employers. Custom-fit hearing devices provide an individual and unique fit with guaranteed levels of protection. Produced from impressions taken of the ears, custom-fit hearing devices can be made from soft, medical-grade silicone so users can wear them for longer than standard earplugs, with greater levels of protection. They are specially designed to fit each unique ear shape for a better, more comfortable fit.
The simple message to employers and employees alike is: don’t take risks. Your hearing is precious and once lost, cannot be restored. Make sure you have the appropriate hearing protection for the job, and make sure you actually wear it whenever relevant.