Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL): Managing Risk

Allianz Commercial reports that hearing loss, caused by exposure to noise at work, continues to be a significant occupational disease with around 170,000 people in the UK thought to suffer from deafness, tinnitus or other ear conditions as a result. Manufacturing is one of the worst affected industry sectors.

Mark Pearce, casualty risk control technical lead, Allianz Commercial commented: “Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) and related conditions such as tinnitus, is a real and ever-present risk for employers and their employees. Exposure to excessive or prolonged levels of noise can lead to serious and irreversible hearing damage.”

He continued: “Exposure is a feature in a wide range of industries including general fabrication, machinery and equipment manufacture, construction and engineering. With NIHL, prevention is certainly better than cure and it is important for employers to assess the risk factors of their workplace and take action to reduce noise exposure.”

Whilst workplaces vary, and it is often a combination of measures that works best, Allianz Commercial has shared a number of examples of ways to reduce the risk of NIHL:

• Introducing a low-noise machinery and equipment purchasing policy
• Using a different, quieter process or quieter equipment
• Introducing engineering controls
• Ensuring machinery and equipment is properly and regularly maintained
• Providing employees with personal hearing protection where identified as necessary, ensuring that it is used properly and maintained. Hearing protection should not however be used as an alternative to controlling noise by technical or organisational means.

In addition to the above it is vital that employers recognise the importance of the role played by training and health surveillance in the form of hearing checks to detect and respond to early signs of damage.

Customers of Allianz Commercial, one of the insurers with whom P F Spare Insurance Brokers are pleased to work to arrange business insurance, can also benefit from Risk Management advice courtesy of Allianz’s bespoke online system. For more information on how to become an Allianz Commercial customer, please contact us.