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Wednesday, July 1, 1998 Published at 00:14 GMT 01:14 UK


More than 1m workers risk hearing problems

Heavy machinery, such as engines, can damage workers' hearing

More than one million workers in Britain are exposed to noise levels which could damage their hearing, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

The HSE says it estimates that 1.3 million workers are exposed to noise levels over 85 decibels. This is the first danger level under the Noise at Work Regulations 1989.

Around 170,000 people are thought to be suffering from deafness, tinnitus and other ear conditions which are caused by or worsened by work.

Legal responsibility

As part of National Noise Awareness Day on 1 July, the HSE is trying to press home to employers the consequences of noise pollution at work and their legal responsibility to reduce it.

It says employers whose businesses have noise levels of over 85 decibels should seek to buy quieter machinery, adapt existing machinery to reduce noise, keep workers away from noisy equipment and ensure ear protection is worn where this is not possible.

Mike Shepherd, head of the HSE's physical agents policy unit, said: "The best way to reduce the exposure of workers to loud noise, and so protect their hearing, is to reduce the noise produced."

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