Tinnitus Awareness Week

Contractors take a lot of care to protect workers on construction sites from harm to their health that could occur within the site environment or from particular equipment. With Tinnitus Awareness Week just behind us, how do contractors keep operatives safe from damage to hearing caused by high levels of noise from machinery and power tools? We asked the SCF Health & Safety Forum how they do it.

Steve George of Willmott Dixon told us:

“Ongoing monitoring of noise and risk assessment plays a part in this, but we need to address particular problems in particular ways. One extremely noisy operation on site is the installation of structural framing systems and metal studwork, in particular the cutting of this with chop saws and as such we have worked with one of our partners to make improvements. Ideally, we take the noisy operation out of the building but this is not always practical so we look to create a specific space using acoustic enclosures, and we’ve done this for some time.

Recently however, our partner has started to employ equipment that warns people in the vicinity of excessive noise levels, and, as these can be intermittent, they have employed a novel idea – the use of an automatic traffic light system. This runs between Green (below 80 decibels ) to Amber (between 80 and 85 dB, where hearing protection is recommended) to Red (above 85dB, where hearing protection is needed). Following discussions around what this means, the system informs people what the levels are and they are able to see at a glance if they need to put their hearing protection on.”

Tinnitus effects around seven million people in the UK. There are a number of causes and exposure to excessive or long term noise are both identified. Our contractors are all working to look after their workforce, following safe practices and providing appropriate safety equipment.