The construction sector has the second-highest rate of people developing occupational deafness, and Insulation Express has investigated the noise levels surrounding construction tools to help raise awareness of the issue.
The research revealed that removing your hearing protection for just five minutes cuts your overall protection by 56% – and can cause permanent hearing damage.
The company uncovered the dB levels of the most common tools found on site, without hearing protection. Each tool has then been ordered from loudest to quietest so that construction workers can understand the hearing implications that come from working with these tools.
Using an active power drill for 15 minutes creates noise at 125dB – almost the same noise level as a military jet taking off, which creates 130dB noise levels.
Cartridge tools were found to be the biggest culprits, creating sound levels od 157dB within just one second.
According to Insulation Express, noise breaches on construction sites are up 25% since Quarter 1 of 2019, and work-related hearing issues cost the NHS £500 million every year.
For construction workers, being exposed to anything at 85bD or higher for extended periods of time can permanently damage their hearing.
Bob Gowen a volunteer for Hearing Link and an electrician for over 35 years, has lost some of his hearing due to working in construction. He believes that construction employees are “now [working] in noisier environments” than he did, yet “private contractors don’t supply ear protection for their staff.”
Gowen adds that the main concern is that younger employees don’t seem to realise what the noise is doing to their hearing, so “getting them to wear protection is another problem.” Unfortunately, this means that “by the time they get into the 40 and 50 [age] bracket it is usually too late to save their hearing.”
According to the World Health Organisation, 50% of all hearing issues can be prevented through various health measures. This is why it is important for employers to:
- Supply hearing protection – unfortunately, once you lose your hearing, you can’t get it back. It’s therefore important to always wearing hearing guards.
- Purchase quieter tools featuring silent blades and nozzles.
- Make machinery as quiet as possible by using pads to minimise vibration or replacing fans and motors.
The full findings can be found online at www.insulationexpress.co.uk