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Noise at work | The SHOUT test!

Written on 22 January 2024

An estimated 20% of workers in Great Britain are believed to be exposed to high levels of noise as part of the working routine. High levels of noise is known to increase the likelihood to suffering from temporary and permanent noise-induced hearing loss.

So what can employers do about it?

The SHOUT test for noise assessment

Employers who notice that their staff need to shout in order to be heard may be dealing with excessive noise in their workplace. To address this concern, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that employers use the “SHOUT test” to proactively assess the presence of noise problems.

The SHOUT test assesses whether workers can communicate each other, without resorting to shouting, from two metres away. If they can’t, it could indicate a problem with noise levels in the workplace that needs to be addressed.

Research by the Workplace Health Expert Committee (WHEC) suggests that one in five workers in Great Britain are likely be exposed to high noise levels (>85 dBA). Indeed, many workers are known to experience a temporary level of hearing loss after leaving their place of work. 

It’s crucial that employers don’t dismiss these issues as they can be an early sign of hearing loss. Continued exposure without adequate breaks may increase the risk, potentially leading to permanent noise-induced hearing loss.

Employers should assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce the risks from exposure to noise and protect their workers’ hearing.

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The CUFF method for hearing protection

Employers that use hearing protection at work are encouraged to CUFF it!

CConditionIs the hearing protection in a good condition?
UUseAre workers using their hearing protection at all times / when they should be using it?
FFitDoes the hearing protection fit the worker? (Every worker is different)
FFit for purposeDoes the hearing protection provide the right level of noise reduction?

Balancing hearing protection and worker safety

Achieving a balance between hearing protection and worker safety is crucial. 

Employers should always consider the type and provision of PPE; inadequate provision may lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss, while over-provision of hearing protection could lead to isolation, thereby increasing in the likelihood of accidents.

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