Noise and vibration

Noise is sometimes referred to as unwanted sound. Damage caused to your hearing by exposure to noise can be permanent. As well as hearing loss, many workers also suffer from constant ringing or buzzing noises in one or both ears. This is known as tinnitus and there is no cure for it.

Noise-induced hearing loss can build up over time. You may not notice the effects each day, but over a period of time your hearing can get worse from the noise you are exposed to at work. When hearing damage becomes significant you may notice the following.

  • You start to turn the television up a bit more than you used to.
  • You struggle to hear conversations or parts of words, particularly when there is background noise (such as in social situations).

There are various sources of noise on a construction site. Many of these are made by hand-held tools and can give high noise exposures because they are close to the user’s ears and because of the pitch of the sound they produce.

Other sources of noise could include the following.

  • Tools that you are using.
  • Tools that other people are using nearby.
  • Site equipment (such as generators).
  • Work equipment and hand-held tools (such as excavators and concrete breakers).

Damage can be caused by continuous noise (such as drills and breakers) and peak noise, usually from impacts (such as from cartridge-operated tools or piling rigs).

As well as causing hearing damage, too much noise on a construction site can mask other noises (for example, warnings or the sound of vehicles approaching). This creates an extra hazard (such as being struck by site vehicles).