Research from Specsavers Corporate Eyecare has revealed that one-third (34 per cent) of employees who require hearing protection for work purposes are not provided with it by their employer.
Noise above 85 decibels can cause permanent and disabling hearing damage, and much like your eyesight, the damage cannot be reversed. Poor hearing makes conversations difficult and can lead to those affected becoming isolated. However, Under the Noise at Work Regulations (2005), it is the responsibility of employers to protect their employees from exposure to excessive noise and noise-induced hearing loss.
Jim Lythgow, Director of Strategic Alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, commented: “Employers themselves acknowledge that they are not providing the necessary hearing protection, and by failing to do so, they may be putting their employees’ hearing at risk.”
The research took place among over 500 senior decision makers in all business sizes across the UK and looked at the type of hearing protection being offered. These included: overhead earmuffs (42 per cent), foam earplugs (37 per cent), custom moulded earplugs (26 per cent), ear canal caps (21 per cent), flanged earplugs (20 per cent), integrated earmuffs (18 per cent), and banded earplugs (17 per cent).
Custom-moulded ear plugs are generally accepted to be the most effective solution for hearing protection, yet these are provided by just a quarter of employers. Custom-fit hearing devices provide an individual and unique fit with guaranteed levels of protection. Produced from impressions taken of the ears, custom-fit hearing devices can be made from soft, medical-grade silicone so users can wear them for longer than standard earplugs, with greater levels of protection. They are specially designed to fit each unique ear shape for a better, more comfortable fit.
Lythgow added: “It is good to see that at least some hearing protection is being offered. Employers may feel that what they have provided is adequate, but it is important that needs and risks are fully assessed so that the most appropriate type of hearing protection is made available.”
The research was undertaken by Opinium on behalf of Specsavers Corporate Eyecare in February 2019.