Advice on the provision of hearing protection at work is provided by the British Safety Council’s Information Service.

When are we required to provide personal hearing protection to employees in potentially noisy environments?

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 place a general duty on employers to eliminate or reduce risks to their workers’ health and safety from exposure to noise at work, where appropriate. In short, this means eliminating or reducing – as far as is reasonably practicable – both the risk of employees suffering hearing damage from excessive noise and being put at risk of injury due to loud noise – for example, by failing to hear approaching vehicles.

As a general rule, when seeking to control harmful noise at work, employers must always first attempt to remove or reduce the risks by adopting suitable technical and organisational measures, as far as is reasonably practicable. For example, employers should consider steps such as providing quieter tools, machinery and equipment; using screens and barriers to reduce the path of noise to people at work; and limiting the amount of time workers spend in noisy areas.

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