Noise on Construction Sites Breaches Increasing

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noise on construction sites
LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott
Legally reviewed by: LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott In: Industrial Disease

Twenty-Five Percent Increase in Noise Breaches on Construction Sites

According the the Building Safety Group, noise infringements on construction sites have increased by 25 percent in the past year, since their 2018 report. Their 2019 report came after 10,000 independent noise on construction sites inspections took place during the first six months of the year.

While we were already aware of the risks faced by construction workers in terms of noise exposure, this increase in amount of breaches comes as quite a shock. Since construction sites are notoriously noisy workplaces, we would expect employers to make their best efforts to prevent noise breaches from occurring. However, unfortunately this doesn’t always happen, and many employees in the UK are suffering hearing loss or damage as a result of excessive noise in their working environments.

Have you suffered from hearing damage or loss as a result of your workplace? Hearing loss in construction workers is common, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. Get in touch to start your compensation claim.

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noise on construction sites - noise level on construction sites

Why can Noise on Construction Sites be so Harmful?

Excessive noise in any environment, at work or elsewhere, can cause hearing damage or loss. However, the noise on construction sites can be particularly harmful to workers because of two things:

  • The individual volume of each piece of equipment of machinery causing noise hazards in construction, and
  • The vast amount of loud equipment and machinery used by multiple employees simultaneously

Tools that are frequently used on construction sites, including chop saws, impact drivers, chain saws, jackhammers and similar are inherently noisy, reaching well over 85 decibels when used, and so put their users at risk of hearing damage.

In fact, just one hour a day of exposure to the noise from a jackhammer can permanently damage your hearing.

All employers have a responsibility to protect their staff, including those working in the construction industry. This means that in order to avoid harm from noise on construction sites, employees should always be provided with hearing protection such as ear plugs or over-ear muffs.

If you work in construction or any other industry where your workplace is very noisy and you are not given – or are made to provide your own – hearing protection, your employer is breaking the law.

What is Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)?

Noise induced hearing loss, or NIHL, is hearing damage that occurs due to a loud environment. This doesn’t always have to happen in your workplace, but if it does then you could pursue a claim against your employer.

It may take a while for you to realise that you’re suffering from NIHL. We often find that our clients put their hearing problems down to ageing, until they visit their GP or a hearing specialist who tells them otherwise.

Some signs of hearing loss/ NIHL include:

  • Constant ringing or swishing sounds
  • Tinnitus – buzzing and humming sounds
  • Earache
  • Muffled or distant sounding hearing
  • Difficulty hearing sound at regular volume, for example the TV, telephone or face to face conversations

In certain industries it’s more likely than others to be exposed to excessive noise levels. Excessive noise on construction sites makes it more likely for construction workers to be affected.

If you have noticed any of the above and any of the following, and:

  • You haven’t been provided with any/ insufficient protective hearing equipment when working in a noisy environment
  • Noisy tools, machinery and equipment at your workplace are not regularly checked for safety
  • You aren’t given regular breaks away from noisy work environments

Then you will likely have a claim for noise induced hearing loss.

Hearing damage is permanent. If your employer has neglected to protect you in noisy environments, we can help you get the compensation you deserve.

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Our Recent NIHL Cases

Noise induced hearing loss doesn’t only occur as a result of noise on construction sites. It can occur in any workplace where noise levels reach over 85 decibels.

Our industrial disease team help clients who have suffered from hearing damage or loss at work, no matter whether they work in construction or a different industry.

Below are two examples of recent cases where clients have received compensation after suffering occupational hearing loss due to excessive noise levels at work.

Case No. 1

Our client worked for UK Border Force. She worked in an inspection shed at the port, checking vehicles as they came into the country. Many of the vehicles coming in for inspection were large lorries, and with the engines running it could get noisy in the shed.

Over time, she noticed that her hearing wasn’t quite what it used to be and at first she put it down to the normal wear and tear that everyone has as they get older. However, following a hearing test it became clear that some of the permanent hearing loss was beyond what could be expected as a result of time alone and that there had been some damage caused by her exposure to noise from the vehicles.

Her employer should have measured the noise levels in the inspection sheds. If they had, they would have realised that hearing protection should have been provided to the staff working in them. We helped this client successfully obtain £2,500 in compensation.

Case No. 2

Our client worked as a welder/fabricator and in the course of his work would use equipment and tools including MIG welders, grinders, punches and hammers.

Over time, he came to realise that his hearing wasn’t quite what it was. After taking a hearing test, it was clear that there had been some damage to his hearing as a result of exposure to loud noise.

His employer argued that he was supplied with hearing protection and had been told to wear it when carrying out certain tasks. However, when we investigated it became clear that they had failed to have the noise levels in their workshop properly measured. If they had, they would have realised that the hearing protection should have been worn all the time as the background noise levels were loud enough to potentially damage hearing.

We were able to obtain £3,000 in compensation for this client.

What Can I Do About Hearing Loss Caused by Excessive Noise on Construction Sites?

Your employer should make sure to protect you from excessive noise at work, however if they don’t there are steps you can take. Noise on construction sites is normal, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing your employer could have done to prevent you from suffering as a result.

You should firstly make them aware of your hearing problems, giving them a chance to improve your work environment and provide you with adequate protection. If they take no action, you should visit your GP or a hearing specialist for an official diagnosis. If they find your hearing to be worse than it should be and your employer still does nothing, it’s time to take action and consider pursuing a hearing loss claim against your negligent employer.

Our solicitors are highly experienced in dealing with noise induced hearing loss claims, and have helped employees from a range of industries, including construction.

If you have suffered from hearing loss or damage as a result of noise on a construction site or another loud working environment, our industrial disease solicitors can help.

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