Quality of life can be badly affected by noise induced hearing loss. For example, people may find that:
- Conversation becomes difficult or impossible.
- They have trouble using the telephone.
- They find it difficult to catch sounds like ‘t’, ‘d’ and ‘s’, and so confuse similar words.
- They may suffer from permanent tinnitus (ringing, whistling, buzzing or humming in the ears) which can be a distressing condition and can lead to other problems, including depression and loss of sleep. For example many families of sufferers complain about the television being too loud.
- 17,000 plus people in the UK suffer deafness, ringing in the ears or other ear conditions caused by excessive noise at work.
- The construction industry is a high risk industry for noise related ill health. Many construction processes are noisy.
- If you have to raise your voice to have a normal conversation when standing about 2 metres apart, for at least part of the day, then noise levels on the site may be at a level which could damage health.
- In the UK the main source of information on hearing loss in the construction industry comes from the IIDB (Industrial Injury Disablement Benefit) scheme. This was set up following changes to the laws surrounding noise in 2005.
- An estimated 20,000 people working during the last year suffered from noise induced hearing loss and 17,000 people in the UK suffer deafness, ringing in the ears or other ear conditions caused by excessive noise at work.
- 85 decibels is the safe exposure limit and you should not exceed 8 hours a day.
- There were 48 cases of hearing loss per 100,000 people employed in the last 12 months which although better than the corresponding rate ten years earlier of 68 cases per 100,000 people employed, is still too high.
Generally, noise can be defined as any unwanted sound. Noise could occur unexpectedly, or be too loud or repetitive. At certain decibels, it can be hazardous to health, with low frequency noise as damaging as loud noise. Noise accounts for most of the complaints that local councils and the Environment Agency receive about environmental pollution and is a major source of stress.