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Construction physical ill health risks:
Noise

Many construction tasks, tools and equipment can produce high noise levels. Frequent exposure to these levels causes hearing problems. This page tells you how to control these risks and why.  More detailed information is available on the main HSE noise page.

What you must do

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 says you must prevent or reduce risks from exposure to noise at work. Follow the Assess, Control and Review model. Pay particular attention to:

Assess

Identify and assess: Construction sites have a range of different noisy activities going on, often at the same time. Consider:

You need to be able to properly assess or estimate noise levels for larger / more dynamic sites so that you can put in place appropriate controls.

Control

You should only have to take simple and inexpensive actions if the risks are low.  For higher risks, you will have to do much more to protect workers. Give priority to the greatest risks first.

Prevent: Where possible think about eliminating or reducing the amount of noise you make. Consider:

Control: Even if you stop some of the risk this way, you may still do other work that can create significant noise. Control the risk by:

Train: Tell workers about the risks to their hearing from loud noise and how to use the controls properly

Review

What you should know

Noise is not just a nuisance; it can seriously damage your hearing. Some people can also suffer a sensation of ringing in the ears (tinnitus) which can become permanent. Explore the audio and visual demonstrations which show how hearing can be affected over a working life. Once your hearing has gone, it will not come back. There is no cure.  Hearing aids cannot fully compensate for this loss of natural hearing.

Hearing damage can have a profound effect on your quality of life. It affects your ability to communicate, particularly in situations where there is background noise. Such background noise is common in many work and social situations. The results can lead to a sense of isolation. It may also increase the chance of you being involved in an accident because it affects your ability to hear what is going on around you.

Updated 2014-09-11