Noise is unwanted sound judged to be unpleasant, loud or disruptive to hearing. From a physics perspective, noise is indistinguishable from sound, as both are vibrations through a medium, such as air or water. The difference arises only when the brain receives and perceives a sound.
The trouble with the aforementioned description of noise is that every individual is different and have different tastes in sound and therefore some loud and disruptive to hearing sounds may not be classed by some as noise as they do not find it unpleasant nor unwanted!
Concerts, nightclubs, festivals, motor racing tracks etc all have a sound associated with them in one form or another but yet people regularly pay varying sums of money to experience such sounds as it adds or even makes the whole experience worthwhile and without the associated sound people would not attend.
Could you imagine paying to attend Glastonbury or a Formula 1 racing event and not have sound?
However The Control of Noise at Work Regulations require all employers to eliminate or reduce risks to health and safety from noise at work, and for this purpose, we consider ALL sound as noise.
In the aforementioned scenario people paying to attend concerts, nightclubs, festivals and Formula 1 racing events are in general not at work but attend of their own volition. However, all these events are organised by people who have employees to assist in running or attending such events and therefore the employer owes those employees a duty to protect them from the noise associated in their workplace.
In reality, most workplaces are relatively straight forward to manage as far as noise is concerned with the only bone of contention arising being from which radio station is played in the workplace.
Unfortunately, with what is referred to as noise-induced hearing loss there is no recovery, as over time the human hearing mechanism becomes irreparably damaged.
Damage sustained at work may also be augmented by the individuals’ lifestyle. For example if an employee is exposed to excessive noise levels at work and attends regular festivals, plays loud music at home, wears headsets with the volume turned up high (and we have all encountered someone with headsets on and the music can still be heard and identified by others close by) etc then they are only adding to the risk of irreversible hearing damage.
As an employer, you are required to make a reliable, representative estimate of your workers’ daily
personal noise exposure, along with the likely peak sound pressure levels to which
workers are exposed.
In many cases claims by employees for hearing-related damages against employers cannot accurately be apportioned to what noise the employee has subjected themselves to and what they have been exposed to by their employer. Therefore, in most cases where the employer cannot demonstrate adequate control measures in the workplace are ruled as a higher percentage of damages in favour of the claimant.
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