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Tinnitus & Noisy Working Environments

Tinnitus & Noisy Working Environments

The 5th-9th February 2018 is National Tinnitus Awareness.

Tinnitus is when you can hear sound from inside the body. People describe tinnitus as ‘ringing in the ears’, but other sounds like buzzing, humming, grinding, hissing and whistling can be heard too. Pulsatile tinnitus is when a person can hear sounds in their ear that beats in time to their pulse.

Tinnitus is caused by overexposure to loud noise. Depending on the noise intensity (decibels), depends on how long people should be exposed to the sound: 

Noise Intensity (db) Exposure Time Type of Sound
85 8 hours Blender, Milling machine
88 4 hours Forklift truck
91 2 hours Tube train
94 1 hour Lawnmower
97 30 minutes Industrial fire alarm
100 15 minutes Bulldozer, handheld drill
103 7.5 minutes MP3 player at full volume
106 3.75 minutes Motorbike
109 112 seconds Crying baby, Jackhammer
112 66 seconds Live rock band
115 33 seconds Emergency vehicle siren


Places where you’d be likely to be exposed to loud noises in a working environment include:

  • Classrooms (with 30 children)
  • Workshops
  • Warehouses
  • Arenas/Nightclubs
  • Outdoor work (road works, farming)
  • Construction workers
  • Racetracks
  • Airport ground staff


If you or your staff are exposed to loud noise for prolonged time, they may hear ringing or buzzing in your ears for some time afterwards. This can cause permanent damage if you allow yourself to be constantly exposed to it.

How to Prevent Tinnitus

First you need to ensure your workplace is a safe environment for noise. You will need to conduct a noise risk assessment. If the levels of noise are higher than acceptable (85 decibels), you must by law act upon it.

You can begin by lowering the noise of equipment with vibration isolation, damping or enclosing a barrier to prevent sound from reaching the worker. If none of those options are viable, then hearing protection is the solution.

Your workplace should identify hearing protection zones (ideally with signs), where you and your employees will be required to wear ear protection.

Hearing protectors should be able to be worn with other protective equipment such as hard hats, dust masks and eye protection. However, be careful that the protectors do not isolate too much sound, and this can be just as dangerous.

What to Wear

Not cotton wool!

Ear muffs or plugs are best for noise that are 100 decibels and up, depending on how long your employee is exposed to the sound.

Park City prevents Ear Damage

We have worked with our clients over the last 20 years, ensuring noisy working environments are made safe for workers. 

If you feel your working area requires checking over, or for some advice on how you can improve the amount of noise in the workers environment, please contact us on 01206 752100 or email Sue Murray [email protected] to organise a meeting.

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