Revealed: Construction Sector Has Second Highest Rate of Occupational Deafness

If you work in construction, you’ll already be aware that it’s a noisy industry.

But did you know that the construction sector has the second-highest rate of employees developing occupational deafness?

In fact, every year, 1 million people in the UK are exposed to hearing-damaging noise at work.

So, to help raise awareness, Insulation Express have investigated the loud truth of construction tools. They’ve uncovered the noise levels of construction’s most popular tools before highlighting the hearing implications that can occur from using these without protection. They’ve also looked at the monumental effect hearing loss can have on construction employees, the NHS and the economy –

Stand Out Stats:

  • When working with construction tools, removing your hearing protection for five minutes cuts your overall protection by 56%
  • Using a power drill for 15 minutes (with a sound level of 125dB) is almost the same noise level as a military jet taking off (130db).
  • A cartridge tool is the noisiest tool in construction. Using one for one second creates sound levels of 157dB, which can permanently damage your hearing if you’re without protection.
  • In the first quarter of 2019, noise breaches on construction sites were up 25% – which proves that the industry is only getting noisier, too.
  • Work-related hearing loss costs the NHS £500 million every year.

The Sound Levels On a Construction Site

Have you ever thought about the impact construction tools can have on your hearing? Luckily, Insulation Express have uncovered the decibels of the most common tools found on site.

Each tool has then been ordered from loudest to quietest so that construction workers can understand the hearing implications that come from working with these tools every day.

Also as a word of warning, being exposed to anything at 85bD or higher for extended periods of time can permanently damage your hearing. As you can see, every construction tool is above 85dB, which means that hearing protection should always be worn:

Real-life Example of Hearing Loss in the Construction Industry

Bob Gowen a volunteer for Hearing Link and an electrician for over 35 years, has unfortunately lost some of his hearing due to working in construction.  He believes that construction employees are “now [working] in noisier environments” than he did, yet “private contractors don’t supply ear protection for their staff.”

Gowen added that the main concern is that younger employees don’t seem to realise what the noise is doing to their hearing, so “getting them to wear protection is another problem.” Unfortunately, this means that “by the time they get into the 40 and 50 [age] bracket it is usually too late to save their hearing,” Gowen noted.

How Employers Can Protect Their Workers

According to the World Health Organisation, 50% of all hearing issues can be prevented through various health measures. This is why it is important for employers to:

  • Supply hearing protection – unfortunately, once you lose your hearing, you can’t get it back. It’s therefore important to always wearing hearing guards.
  • Purchase quieter tools – which have silent blades and nozzles.
  • Make machinery as quiet as possible – this can be be done by using pads to minimise vibration or replacing fans and motors.
  • Limit the amount of time workers are exposed to a noisy task.

Interested in the full findings?


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BDC 317 : Jun 2024