Health Topics - Noise

Why worry?

Once you have damaged your hearing it cannot be fixed. Many tasks in construction involve employees being subjected to noise above the first and second action levels as defined in the Noise at Work Regulations.

When should you worry?

  • constant background noise in the work environment, eg. machinery
  • sudden loud noises, eg. explosion on a demolition site
  • the louder the noise
  • the longer the noise lasts the more likely it is that damage will occur

What are the warning signs of hearing damage?

  • ringing in your ears
  • you can't hear as well as you used to
  • difficulty hearing sounds, eg. other people talking
  • difficulty working out which direction noise is coming from

What should you do?


It is the employer's duty to reduce noise as far as reasonably practicable. If you are an employer, decide if a noise assessment is needed, eg:

  • do people have difficulty speaking to each other over approximately 2m
  • if so you will need to have a noise assessment carried out
  • this should take account of others who may be affected as well as your own employees
  • the assessment should be done by a competent person, that is someone who understands the Noise at Work (NAW) Regulations and the Health & Safety Executive's (HSE) guidance on assessments and how to apply it
  • this is a 'first step' towards complying with the NAW Regulations and enables employers to identify workers who need personal protection straight away
  • find out if you can use damping to reduce any noise coming from machinery or equipment
  • make sure that noise reduction is built into machinery when you are buying it


If you are an employee:

  • see if you can move to another job in a quieter area whilst noise machinery is being used
  • if you are provided with hearing protection then use it - it is not provided for fun!

Hearing protection should be:

  • worn correctly according to the instructions
  • the correct size for you
  • kept clean
  • inspected regularly
  • replaced if damaged
  • worn AT ALL TIMES when you are at risk

For further guidance and free leaflets click here.

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