Choosing hearing protection at work

On one hand, hearing protection is the last resort in the desired hierarchy of control measures when looking at dealing with noise issues at work, but on the other, in reality it is understandably pretty much the first thing every employer looks at when they discover a noise issue, and is something most workplaces have to deal with.

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As you may expect from the rest of the whole muddy area of noise safety, hearing protection is again deceptively complex and takes a lot more time and management than simply choosing what Arco have on offer at the time. But, don't worry, the pages here try to make all this as simple as possible, explaining each step and pointing you in the right direction.

Basics of hearing protection

  1. The first step is the noise assessment which will determine if hearing protection is needed, and importantly if your noise levels fall into the areas where it is optional or compulsory to use
     
  2. You need to choose the right hearing protection, which means strong enough, but importantly not too strong. And to do this you need to use one of three methods, SNR, HML or Octave Band. There is a page here on each but think of these three as 'OK', 'better' and 'bestest'. You can also use the database of hearing protectors on this site to sort through them and choose suitable ones.
     
  3. You need to provide a variety of protectors as it is highly unlikely that one protector will suit all employees.
     
  4. You need to train employees in its use, importantly covering how to use it correctly and the dangers inherent in taking it out while still in a high noise area, even if only for a short time.
     
  5. And you need to enforce its use. It is no good dishing it out and that being the end of it - if it is not enforced an employer will probably still lose a claim made against them.