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Yorkshire Businesses Must Pump Down The Volume Or Risk £10,000 Payouts, Warns Legal Expert

Noise in the workplace fines


A top Yorkshire lawyer has warned businesses in the region they must keep a lid on noise or risk fines of up to £10,000 for damaging their employees health.

Mark Allen, head of the industrial diseases team at national law firm Irwin Mitchell, based at its offices in Riverside, Sheffield, gave the warning as the new Control of Noise at Work Regulations came into force.

The act lowers the legally acceptable level of noise in the workplace to 80 decibels (dBA), after it was set at 85dBA by legislation introduced in 1990.

lack of ear protection for employees

Over the last five years, more than 70 improvement notices have been served by the Health & Safety Executive to businesses in Yorkshire, following breaches of the Noise at Work Regulations 1989. These have included failing to ensure employees wear ear protection and not carrying out assessments, as well as ignoring permitted volumes.

Companies including Malton-based Grampian Country Food Group, Batley firm Slimline Windows and Pontefract confectionery manufacturer Dunhills have received notices, which have now been complied with.

Hearing damage caused in the workplace

Mr Allen said: These new regulations are designed to protect staff in Yorkshire from damaging levels of noise over an average eight hour working day. To comply, employers must either reduce the noise at source or provide acoustic screening, in the form of ear plugs or designated hearing protection zones.

If they fail to do this, businesses can be reported by their staff to the Health & Safety Executive or environmental health department of their local council.

Mr Allen warned staff exposed to excessive levels of noise can easily develop a hearing problem and sue their employer for industrial deafness. Many feel driven to leave their place of work in search of a more bearable working environment.

Noise induced hearing loss

He said: Noise induced hearing loss is a serious issue affecting businesses in Yorkshire. If employees go on to develop tinnitus as a result of sustained periods of exposure, compensation can rise dramatically.

The complaint is common among many former workers in the mining, steel, engineering and textile industries, but more and more nightclub, bar and restaurant staff are now also at risk.

Businesses in the music and entertainment industry have been given a two-year transitional period to comply with the new regulations.

Summarising the legislation, Mr Allen, said: As a general rule, if any noise means you have to raise your voice or shout at work then this is too loud.

If you or a loved one has suffered from hearing damage such as acoustic shock, tinnitus, and noise-induced hearing loss caused by conditions at work our solicitors could help you claim compensation. See our Industrial Disease Claims page for more information.