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Exposure to Noise at Work

Significant noise exposure can result in permanent and disabling hearing loss (Noise Induced Hearing Loss).  The level at which employers must assess the risk to employees' health, provide them with information and training, and offer hearing protection is 80 decibels.  The level at which employers must provide hearing protection and hearing protection zones is 85 decibels (daily or weekly average exposure). 

University employees exposed to this level of noise are required take part in a health surveillance programme.  This would involve an appointment in the Occupational Health Service, where a qualified and suitably trained Occupational Health Adviser (OHA) will ask you some questions about your hearing, your noise exposure in previous jobs and any non-work exposure (for example, loud music or riding a motorcycle, which can also cause noise-induced hearing loss).  The OHA will then check your ear canals, which is a straightforward non-invasive procedure.  Providing there are no contraindications, such as a cold virus or ear infection, a hearing test will then be performed.  You will be notified of the results and of any problems detected.  The OHA will provide your line-manager with advice on your fitness to work with exposure to noise and of any identified need for adjustments to your work that may be required.  This report will not contain any confidential medical information.

If you have any questions about the health surveillance programme, please contact Occupational Health at occupationalhealth@exeter.ac.uk