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Health and Safety

Noise and vibration

For more information on Noise and vibrationclick here for the relevant chapter of the TUC guide to health and safety "Hazards at Work

Noise and vibration are among the most widespread and underestimated of industrial hazards.

Exposure to loud noise can cause permanent hearing damage. Hearing loss caused by exposure to noise at work continues to be a significant occupational disease. Recent research suggests 170,000 people in the UK suffer deafness, tinnitus or other ear conditions as a result of exposure to excessive noise at work.

Factors that contribute to hearing damage are; noise levels and how long people are exposed to the noise, daily and over a number of years. Besides causing temporary or permanent hearing loss noise can also be a safety hazard. Noise can interfere with verbal communication, produce stress and affect performance.

Also anyone who regularly and frequently is exposed to high levels of vibration can suffer permanent injury. Vibration hazards at work usually present themselves in two forms:

- Whole body vibration (WBV) - where the body is shaken by a machine or vehicle
- or hand-arm vibration (HAV) - where the vibration effect is localised to a particular part of the body.

Exposure to hand-arm vibration may result in a range of health effects collectively known as Hand-arm Vibration Syndrome or HAVS. The most well known is vibration white finger; other effects include damage to nerves, muscles and joints. A Medical Research Council survey in 1997-98 estimated 301,000 people suffer from vibration white finger (VWF) in Great Britain.

Whole body vibration is caused by vibration transmitted from machinery, vehicles or sometimes through the floor. The most widely reported WBV injury is back pain.

Links

HSE noise pages

HSE free leaflets on noise

HSE: Hand arm and whole body vibration webpages

TUC construction information datasheet:

Worksmart FAQs and further resources

The most recent documents available on this subject are:

Another Corus worker gets deafness payout
A factory foreman who was exposed to excessive noise at work which left him with severe hearing difficulties has been awarded undisclosed compensation by his former employer, Corus.
PDF version available for download
21 December 2007

Musicians make a noise on noise
Musicians are being urged to speak up to protect their hearing.
PDF version available for download
17 August 2007

Workplace noise still a health threat
Workers, some exposed recently, are still developing noise-induced hearing loss, recent compensation cases show (Risks 311).
PDF version available for download
20 July 2007

Modern miner gets deafness payout
A miner whose hearing was severly damaged working for just 11 years in modern coal mines has received a £4,500 payout.
PDF version available for download
22 June 2007

Bar staff 'should wear ear plugs'
Campaigners have attacked the music and entertainment industry for not preparing measures to protect the hearing of bar and club workers.
PDF version available for download
11 May 2007

TUC repeats call for hearing checks
Hearing charity RNID and the TUC have teamed up for the second year running to call on workers and their managers to 'break the sound barrier' and take the charity's telephone hearing check on 0845 600 55 55.
PDF version available for download
12 January 2007

Older documents - 18   >

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