When it comes to health and safety in the workplace, one of the most often overlooked considerations of all is that of hearing. According to a recent estimate, there are approximately nine million people living in the United Kingdom who are considered to have hearing difficulties to one extent or another. Of course, in so many of these instances the cause of the hearing loss is somewhat inevitable – the aging process and a myriad of underlying diseases or illnesses being the primary triggers. Nevertheless, it has also become apparent that tens of thousands of new cases of partial or total hearing loss each year are attributed to unsafe working conditions and practices.
Which is where the subject of steel beams and RSJs comes into the equation – building supplies that most often be modified in some way prior to use. Sourcing, handling and getting to grips with cheap RSJs in Essex takes specialist skills and knowledge to say the least, but it is of the utmost importance to understand and acknowledge safe working practices throughout.
So with this in mind, what follows is a quick introduction to a number of important hearing health and safety tips from the professionals:
1 – Noise Assessment
First of all, it is the responsibility of all employers when and where any kind of machinery is present to ensure that the appropriate noise assessments are carried out. Needless to say, building sites and construction environments represent perfect illustrations of exactly where and why such assessments are necessary. It is basically a case of identifying any machinery and work processes where sound levels exceed 85 dB(A). And where such high levels of noise are found, it’s a case of implementing procedures, processes and rules to limit employee exposure.
2 – Use the Proper Protection
In any environment where there are high levels of noise or any kind of persistent noise, the appropriate personal protective equipment must be supplied by the employer. It is a matter of law that the correct PPE must be made available for all employees at all times, though it is of course the employee’s responsibility to ensure that the equipment is actually used…and used properly at that. Hearing protection is often regarded as something that is optional or even superfluous, when it is in fact quite to the contrary. As is the case with all personal protective equipment, there’s a very fine line between a situation that’s entirely harmless and one that can cause permanent damage – PPE ensuring the latter never occurs.
3 – Maintain PPE
Of course it’s also important to acknowledge the fact that personal protective equipment can only carry out its job to the required level if it is kept in the kind of condition that allows it to do so. Again, just as is the case with all PPE, hearing protection has a certain usable life after which it must be replaced and is in no way impervious to damage. Simply by using hearing protection every day on a prolonged basis, it is inevitable that it will eventually show signs of wear and tear. And while it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the appropriate PPE is supplied, every member of the workforce plays a role in monitoring and identifying the quality and condition of the PPE supplies being used.
4 – Avoid Exposure
If you are working in an environment where there is excessive or prolonged noise, the best advice is of course to limit exposure to the highest possible extent. As such, those who are not required to work directly with the kind of machinery and equipment responsible for the noise are best advised to keep as far away from it as possible. Hanging around areas of high noise even for short periods of time has the potential to result in severe hearing damage, therefore where and when possible it is advisable simply to stay away from the source of the noise.
5 – Speak Up
Last but not least, it is of absolutely critical importance that each member of the workforce plays their own crucial role in health and safety across the workplace from top to bottom. What this basically means it is not only constantly being aware of what is going on around you, what other people are doing and what kinds of hazards are at play, but also being willing to speak up and make your voice heard when and where there is a problem to be addressed. The very worst thing to do is to simply assume that every problem you come across is somebody else’s responsibility and therefore will be handled by someone else. After all, if everybody thinks in exactly the same way, the problem will never be addressed.