Noise at work highlighted
Two recent legal cases highlight the issue of noise at work, on the back of recent research linking noise and heart disease. In the first, a specialist floor manufacturer was fined £16,000 after ignoring a formal warning about noise levels at its factory. The HSE prosecuted Equestrian Surfaces for putting employees’ hearing at risk, despite being given two extensions to an Improvement Notice requiring a reduction in daily exposure levels. A machine at the factory uses metal blades to shred material into tiny pieces and can reach volumes of 98 decibels. The HSE inspector said the company “could have taken a number of simple steps to reduce noise exposure but chose to rely on just using basic ear protectors, which in effect is the last line of defence”.
In the second case, an employee of an engineering company in Cleveland was paid more than £33,000 in compensation after suffering permanent hearing damage as a result of spending eight years spot welding aeroplane jet engines without ear protection. The firm failed to provide protection, or to take other safety measures to reduce the worker’s exposure to noise above the statutory action levels.
Hand-arm vibration payout
Electricity network operator CE Electric UK agreed to pay an employee £8,750 compensation after he developed hand-arm vibration syndrome after exposure to vibratory tools in the company’s road works division in Stockton-on-Tees. Deryne Hughes noticed symptoms three years ago, starting with numbness and tingling in both hands, which developed into cramp and pains. He argued that his employer failed to risk-assess his work, rotate his duties or limit his exposure to the vibratory tools.