Industrial Noise & Vibration Centre

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Noise risk reduction has failed: it's time to change - Nil NIHL


Massive (£400 million pa), unsustainable hearing damage claims demonstrate that current PPE-dominated noise risk reduction programmes have not worked. Period. Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is a preventable plague that has not been prevented. It's time to learn why. It's time to stop people from suffering unnecessary hearing damage by changing the way risk is managed.

nil noise induced hearing loss NIHL

This is how you can move towards Nil NIHL in virtually any organisation, from industrial to entertainment, by reducing risk by 75%-90% whilst simultaneously cutting costs. Does that sound like a plan? 10min BOHS 2022 video>

The Plan - making noise risk management effective

  1. Noise assessments: don't repeat placebo assessments indicating, yet again, that you still have a noise problem. You already knew that, and, according to HSE, most noise assessments are not fit for purpose. Invest resources in risk reduction, such as a Noise Control Audit (cost/benefit analysis) instead.
  2. PPE performance: if you know the real-world limitations you can implement simple measures to double or treble protector performance. The manufacturers’ assumed protection data is irrelevant in most circumstances. If you need 10dB attenuation or more, then this is very difficult to achieve in practice. Most people, including consultant report writers, don't seem to know this. The latest intelligent PPE can also help.
  3. Noise control: most companies can reduce hearing damage risk by 50%-90% at negligible (or even a negative - i.e. at a profit) cost by sourcing best practice engineering noise control measures from online resources. There are very simple but effective noise control measures for the most common sources.
  4. Health surveillance: conventional audiometry is a checkbox exercise providing too little information too late to be of use in risk management. It doesn’t have to be…

You can get up-to-date with best practice via our certificate of competence in workplace noise risk assessment public courses.

HSE - standard PPE is an unreliable risk reduction option

HSE research (report RR720) proved that hearing protection is very often ineffective. The assumption that PPE is a reliable “solution” to hearing damage risk problems is simply untrue. This assumption has left many personnel at risk and companies open to claims if their hearing conservation policy was based on issuing PPE to affected personnel. There is a solution. Hearing risk management programmes can be updated to reduce risk dramatically at negligible or no cost - or even at a profit as the revised best practice will often cost less than current expenditure.

How to update your noise risk management programme to Nil NIHL >