Priorities for occupational noise in Britain



Regulation of occupational exposure to noise in Britain for 50 years has reduced risk.  However, statistics from around the globe (and in Britain alone) suggest that the range in harm is between around zero and more than 1 in 4 workers exposed to high noise. The uncertainty in statistics and the potential high incidence and prevalence of harm justifies investigation. In Britain, we will investigate the current risk of occupational hearing loss and the effectiveness of current noise control measures. We propose to gather data during inspections of industries that are known to have high levels of workplace noise. Finding high incidence of hearing damage will indicate a failure of immediate management of risk and likely result in enforcement action. We propose to review employers’ control of noise propagation in the workplace through use and maintenance of noise controls supplied with machines and supplemented with acoustic barriers and noise havens. We propose to review suppliers design and build of noise control into their products and their reported noise emissions for noisiest typical use. We are looking to benefit from the experience of our global counterparts before finalising our plans.