Having the appropriate hearing protection for yourself and your workers is a vital necessity, noise at work can cause hearing loss that can be temporary or permanent. People often experience temporary deafness after leaving a noisy place, although hearing recovers within a few hours, this should not be ignored. It is a sign that if you continue to be exposed to the noise your hearing could be permanently damaged. Permanent hearing damage can be caused immediately by sudden, extremely loud, explosive noises, eg from guns or cartridge-operated machines.
It is important that you take the necessary measures to evaluate any potential noise problems, as a simple guide you will likely need to do something about the noise if any of the following apply:
- Is the noise intrusive - like a busy street, a vacuum cleaner or a crowded restaurant - for most of the working day?
- Do your employees have to raise their voices to carry out a normal conversation when about 2 m apart for at least part of the day?
- Do your employees use noisy powered tools or machinery for more than half an hour each day?
- Do you work in a noisy industry, eg construction, demolition or road repair; woodworking; plastics processing; engineering; textile manufacture; general fabrication; forging, pressing or stamping; paper or board making; canning or bottling; foundries?
- Are there noises due to impacts (such as hammering, drop forging, pneumatic impact tools etc), explosive sources such as cartridge operated tools or detonators, or guns?
SNR (Single Number Rating) is the system within the European Union to indicate the amount of protection offered by a correctly fitted hearing protection device. In simplified form SNR ratings indicates the level that a noise can be reduced by wearing a hearing protection device.
Example: If you have a noise level of 110 db and you have an SNR of 30, then the perceived noise level would be reduced to 80 db
HSE recommends the following ratings for the appropriate noise level.
|Decibel Noise Level||Recommended SNR Rating|
|85-90||20 or Below|
|90-95||20 to 30|
|95-100||25 to 35|
|100-105||30 or Higher|
If you are still unsure what rating you require we strongly suggest you contact your HR representative or an appropriate specialist.