Key messages

  • Hearing loss caused by work is preventable but once your hearing has gone it won't come back.
  • Damage can cause loss of hearing ability and people may also suffer a permanent sensation of ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus.
  • Hearing loss caused by exposure to noise at work continues to be a significant occupational disease. Some 17,000 [1] people in the UK suffer deafness, tinnitus or other ear conditions as a result of exposure to excessive noise at work.
  • There are many practical, cost-effective ways of protecting yourself and your workers.
  • Factors that contribute to hearing damage are noise levels and how long people are exposed to the noise, daily or over a number of years.
  • The most efficient and effective way of controlling noise is by technical and organisational means that protect workers at source, eg changes in process, reducing vibration (damping) and reducing time spent in noisy areas.
  • Health surveillance or hearing checks are vital to detect and respond to early signs of damage.


1. The 2008/09 Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows an estimated 17,000 individuals who worked in the previous 12 months, who believed their hearing problems were the most serious of their work related illnesses. Previous figures show all illnesses caused or made worse by work were recorded which resulted in significantly higher numbers being recorded.

Is this page useful?

Updated 2021-05-21