A third of employees are not provided with hearing protection

Research conducted by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare has revealed that only 42% of employers in the UK provide overhead earmuffs to its employees.

Businesses of all sizes across the UK took part in a survey to find out what type of hearing protection is provided for them. It looked at the types of hearing protection offered by companies in the UK. The findings were:

  • Foam earplug 37%;
  • Custom moulded earplug 26%;
  • Ear canal caps 21%;
  • Flanged earplug 20%;
  • Integrated earmuff 18%;
  • Banded earplug 17%.

Under the Control of 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.

Professions such as aircraft ground control and construction workers are examples of jobs where employees are in risk of hearing damage/loss, if relevant protection is not provided. Noise above 85db (decibels) can cause permanent and disabling hearing damage, which cannot be reversed.

At a construction site, peak noise levels can reach 120db, for example a chainsaw’s average decibel can reach 106db-115db, which can significantly damage a construction worker’s hearing or permanently cause them hearing loss.

Jim Lythgow, Director of Strategic Alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, expressed that “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.”

Ensuring that hearing protection is highlighted in Risk Assessments could save companies from getting a hefty fine if they also carry out what is stated.

Jim Lythgow said: ‘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.’

According to the HSE, between 2015 and 2018, 23,000 workers suffered work related hearing problems, and insurance claims for workplace noise-induced hearing loss in the UK has increased 189% over the last three years.