Dangerous Decibels hitting wrong notes at work


hurting earsIn the wake of rising claims, Allianz Commercial has issued customers with risk management advice to help reduce their exposure to noise in the workplace. Hearing loss, caused by exposure to noise at work, continues to be a significant occupational disease with around 170,000 people in the UK thought to suffer from deafness, tinnitus or other ear conditions as a result. Manufacturing is one of the worst affected industry sectors.

The insurance industry has seen a dramatic rise in the number of Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) claims. Allianz has seen an increase of 250% in new claims since 2010 and the first quarter of this year has also hit a new high.

Risk management advice on this issue is available via Risk Director, Allianz’s free online risk management service available to customers and brokers. It aims to help employers and their employees identify how NIHL might occur where they work. Additionally, it highlights some of the measures for employers to consider when reducing the exposure to noise at work to protect people’s hearing.

Mark Pearce, casualty risk control technical lead, Allianz Commercial commented: “Noise induced hearing loss and related conditions such as tinnitus, is a real and ever-present risk for employers and their employees. Exposure to excessive or prolonged levels of noise can lead to serious and irreversible hearing damage.”

He continued: “Exposure is a feature in a wide range of industries including general fabrication, machinery and equipment manufacture,, construction and engineering . With NIHL, prevention is certainly better than cure and it is important for employers to assess the risk factors of their workplace and take action to reduce noise exposure.”

Whilst workplaces vary, and it is often a combination of measures that works best, examples of ways to reduce the risk of NIHL include:

  • Introducing a low-noise machinery and equipment purchasing policy
  • Using a different, quieter process or quieter equipment
  • Introducing engineering controls
  • Ensuring machinery and equipment is properly and regularly maintained
  • Providing employees with personal hearing protection where identified as necessary, ensuring that it is used properly and maintained. Hearing protection should not however be used as an alternative to controlling noise by technical or organisational means.

In addition to the above it is vital that employers recognise the importance of the role played by training and health surveillance in the form of hearing checks to detect and respond to early signs of damage.

Full press release on www.allianz.co.uk