Employers will need to turn the volume down today as new noise regulations come into force.
They aim to protect the hearing of up to two million workers and will see action taken at a much lower noise level than is currently the case.
Under the new regulations, the noise levels at which workers will be required to have hearing protection available, and the level at which they will be required to wear protection, have been reduced by 5dB to 80dB and 85dB respectively.
One million workers in the UK are exposed to noise levels that could damage their hearing, and there are 170,000 cases of deafness, tinnitus or other ear conditions caused by excessive noise at work, according to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).
Neil Budworth, president of IOSH, said: “There is an enormous task to be done to raise awareness about preventing hearing damage caused by noise, and I hope that employers are ready to comply with the new regulations.
“It’s important to remember that we have people working longer hours and retiring later in life, which means exposure to noise can be greater than in the past.”
Many job sectors are likely to be affected by the new regulations, including agriculture, construction, quarrying and mining, transport and entertainment.
Although the music and entertainment industry officially has until April 2008 to comply while still meeting the ‘old’ requirements, Budworth strongly suggested they should take action now.
“These new requirements are a golden opportunity to preserve the hearing and quality of life of future generations of workers, and to prevent the feelings of social isolation that deafness can cause,” he said.