Life needs sound... Protect your hearing

Keep the noise down

Noise at work can cause hearing damage that is permanent and disabling. This could be hearing loss that is gradual because of exposure to noise over time, but also damage caused by sudden, extremely loud noises.
The damage is disabling as it can stop people being able to understand speech, keep up with conversations or use the telephone.
Hearing loss is not the only problem. People may develop tinnitus (ringing, whistling, buzzing or humming in the ears), a distressing condition which can lead to disturbed sleep.

Noise at work can interfere with communication and make warnings harder to hear. It can also reduce people’s awareness of their surroundings. These issues can lead to safety risks – putting people at risk of injury or death.

Workers in a noisy workplace are particularly at risk of losing their hearing. Excessive noise levels and the length of time people are exposed daily or over a number of years, are key factors in hearing damage.

But excessive noise at work can be prevented to reduce the risk of hearing loss.
Employers and employees have responsibilities and can take practical action to protect workers from noise in the workplace.

Find out what you must do to cut the risk of hearing loss from excessive noise at work – whether you are an employer, worker or other professional within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.



What is Excessive Noise?

Noise is all around us – at home, at leisure and at work. Most noise levels we experience are harmless to our hearing, but in some situations, if things get too loud and we don’t take the right protection we risk damage to our hearing.

The level of risk from exposure to noise depends on the volume of sound, the length of time it continues, and on the maximum noise, or peak sound pressure, that a person is exposed to.

Many industries have workplaces where excessive noise could be a risk to workers or the public – construction and civil engineering, demolition, roadworks, engineering, manufacturing, fabrication, forging or pressing, bottling or canning plants and foundries to name a few Power-tools. noisy machinery or engines, chainsaws, drilling, equipment or operation with an explosive action - such as cartridge operated tools, detonators or guns - impact noise from hammering, drop forging, pneumatic impact tools, can all create excessive noise. Even some chemicals and substances used in the workplace – known as ‘ototoxic’ - can contribute to hearing damage when combined with excessive noise.

Do you know?!

  • That 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss.
  • Disabling hearing loss refers to hearing loss greater than 40dB in the better hearing ear in adults and a hearing loss greater than 30dB in the better hearing ear in children.
  • Hearing loss may result from genetic causes, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular drugs, exposure to excessive noise and ageing.
  • Half of all cases of hearing loss are avoidable through primary prevention.
  • People with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids, cochlear implants and other assistive devices; captioning and sign language; and other forms of educational and social support.
  • Current production of hearing aids meets less than 10% of global need.

What The Regulations say?

The Code of Practice in Abu Dhabi

OSHAD System Framework (OSHAD-SF) has been designed and implemented by OSHAD to ensure compliance with its regulatory requirements. The system framework includes the Code of Practice 3.0 concerning “Occupational Noise”. This code of practice highlights the responsibilities and duties of both employers and employees in order to prevent negative impact of noise in the workplace.

Download code of practice

What You Need To Do

Employers must take practical and reasonable steps to protect the hearing of employees and others who may be affected in the workplace and surrounding areas. They must assess, identify and take the actions needed to eliminate or reduce the risks from exposure to noise.

Taking simple and inexpensive actions can help in low-risk situations. A noise control action plan – or hearing conservation plan - is needed where there are higher risks of damage to people’s hearing and noise exceeds safe levels, i.e. over 85Db(a) over an eight hour shift and/or in excess of 100Db(a) at any time.

Controlling Noise in your workplace

Noise and noise exposure can often be reduced by making simple changes that can lower the risk of damaging the hearing of workers, contractors and visitors. Look for ways to remove the noise, by using different equipment, techniques, processes or installing shields that can help reduce noise.

Hearing Conservation Plan

In workplaces where there is a high risk of noise exposure, employers must put in place a continuous, effective hearing conservation program.
A ‘high risk’ is where a risk assessment has identified noise exposure levels equal to or exceeding 85dB(A), measured before using hearing protection equipment.
No employee, contractor or other person should be exposed to any continuous, intermittent or impact noise at or in excess of 100dB(A) without hearing protection.

Hearing conservation plans include:

Find out more by downloading our leaflet.



How is noise measured?

Noise is measured in decibels (dB). An 'A-weighting' sometimes written as 'dB(A)', is used to measure average noise levels. A 'C-weighting' or 'dB(C)' measures peak, impact or explosive noises.



Action And Limit Levels

Employers need to take action to protect workers and others when noise levels reach certain noise exposure values, which depend on:

  • What levels of noise exposure employees are exposed to on average over a working day or week.
  • What maximum noise (peak sound pressure) employees are exposed to in a working day.

How noise can be dangerous

Damage caused by noise at work can cause temporary or even permanent hearing loss. Temporary deafness can follow being in a noisy place for a while, then often gets back to normal within hours.

But this is a warning sign that you could be damaging your hearing permanently if you are exposed to the loud noise too often. Sudden loud and explosive noises can also cause permanent hearing damage or deafness.

Usually, hearing loss happens gradually and is often only noticed with ageing. But young and older people alike can suffer from hearing loss or deafness caused by excessive noise. Conversations become harder to hear, certain words or sounds are misunderstood, people notice themselves speaking more loudly or needing to turn up the volume on electronic devices.

Noise can cause other damage such as tinnitus – a constant ringing, whistling, buzzing or humming in the ears – which can be very distressing and make it difficult to sleep or concentrate.

Hearing loss can also affect workers’ performance, their communication skills and make it harder to hear safety or warning signals. It can also reduce awareness of surroundings, leading to safety risks – even injury or death.



how to protect your hearing

If you work in a noisy workplace your hearing may be at risk unless you wear the right hearing protection.

Use the right hearing protection equipment or safety devices provided by your employer, in line with any training or instruction you are given, to reduce the risk of damage to your hearing – and comply with the law.

You may be at risk from the noise in your workplace if:

  • Noise levels are as loud or louder than a busy street, a vacuum cleaner or a crowded restaurant, for most of your working day;
  • You have to raise your voices to have a normal conversation with othersabout 2 metres away, at least for part of the day.
  • You or your colleagues use noisy powered tools or machinery for more than half an hour a day;
  • You work in place where the jobs are noisy, such as construction, engineering woodworking, processing, demolition or road repair, textile manufacture, general manufacturing, forging or stamping, paper or board making, canning or bottling, foundries, waste and recycling;
  • There are impact noises from hammering, drop forging, pneumatic impact tools or explosive sounds from cartridge-operated tools, detonators, or guns.

Workers must report any defective equipment or activity that could cause over-exposure to noise, or hearing damage to themselves or another person.

Some types of hearing protection

Earmuffs and earplugs are the final layer of protection for your hearing and should be provided by your employer,with training for use and replacements, plus consulting with you on comfort, fit and the right type for your work.

Find out more by downloading our pocket card for workers


Managing Noise Risks

Download the Diagram




Get involved

How to participate?

OSHAD’s occupational noise campaign provides advice and guidance on how to measure and manage noise levels and protect workers hearing. OSHAD invites all organisations or companies in government and private sectors to participate in the campaign in a number of ways, as outlined in the following sections.

How to participate as an entity in the campaign:

Action Plan:

Organisations and companies can liaise with human resources management units to implement a noise management policy and action plan. This can include providing guides and workshops for employees to educate them about the risks and setting plans, in addition to offering them advice on how to protect their hearing.

Materials

Download and print OSHAD’s Occupational Noise campaign materials to display around your workplace. This includes posters and leaflets for employers, supervisors and employees.

Social Media

Send awareness messages through the entity’s social media accounts using the campaign hashtag #lifeneedssound.

Submit your case study

If you have conducted any occupational noise campaigns or other activities in your company, send OSHAD a case study at noise@oshad.ae. Include a summary of your procedures and activities and we will promote your activities and achievements on our occupational noise website.

Be a Partner and a Sponsor

Become an official campaign partner by sponsoring OSHAD’s occupational noise activities this year and in the years to come. Send an email to noise@oshad.ae if you would like to receive more information about sponsorship opportunities.

Be a Media Partner

Join us to raise awareness about the campaign by using different channels to announce the campaign and promote it.
Media partnerships are booked for entities who own visual media outlets and social media channels able to intensively engage in the campaign.

 



Partners

Partners will be announced soon.





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