A survey has warned that one-third (34%) of employees who require hearing protection for work purposes are not provided with it by their employer.

The research, which surveyed among over 500 senior decision makers in businesses of all sizes across the UK in February 2019, was conducted by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare.

The company pointed out that noise above 85 decibels can cause permanent and disabling hearing damage, and much like eyesight, the damage cannot be reversed.

Under the Noise at Work Regulations 2005, it is the responsibility of employers to protect their employees from exposure to excessive noise and noise-induced hearing loss.

In the survey, employers admitted that one-third (34%) of employees who require hearing protection for work purposes are not provided with it.

The research also looked at the types of hearing protection offered by employers and found the following:

  • overhead earmuffs: provided by 42% of employers

  • foam earplugs: 37%

  • custom moulded earplugs: 26%

  • ear canal caps: 21%

  • flanged earplugs: 20%

  • integrated earmuffs: 18%

  • banded earplugs: 17%.

The figures indicate that custom-moulded ear plugs, generally accepted to be the most effective solution for hearing protection, were provided by just a quarter (26%) of employers.

Jim Lythgow, Director at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, commented, “Employers themselves acknowledge that they are not providing the necessary hearing protection, and by failing to do so, they may be putting their employees’ hearing at risk.”

However, he added, “It is good to see that at least some hearing protection is being offered. Employers may feel that what they have provided is adequate, but it is important that needs and risks are fully assessed so that the most appropriate type of hearing protection is made available.”

Last reviewed 10 September 2019