Noise levels – What are the action levels and limit values?

Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure that their employees’ hearing is sufficiently protected in the workplace. If you work in an environment where there are significant loud or intrusive noises on a daily basis, your employer is responsible for protecting your hearing.

A common way to identify if your hearing is being affected is if you have muffled hearing at the end of the day – even if it is better by the next morning. This could be a clear indicator that noise levels within your workplace are too high, and there is a risk of damaging your hearing.

The Noise Regulations require employers to take specific action at certain action values. These relate to the levels of exposure to noise of your employees averaged over a working day or week; and the maximum noise (peak sound pressure) to which employees are exposed in a working day.

The values are:

  • Lower exposure action values – daily or weekly exposure of 80 dB; peak sound pressure of 135 dB
  • Upper exposure action values – daily or weekly exposure of 85 dB; peak sound pressure of 137 dB
  • There are also levels of noise exposure which must not be exceeded. These are called exposure limit values – daily or weekly exposure of 87 dB; peak sound pressure of 140 dB

How to protect yourself

Scrivens Hearing Care provides hearing protection advice and guidance, as well as custom hearing protection products suitable for a variety of industries and environments. However, if you work in a setting where noise levels are high, there are steps you can take to help your employer and protect your hearing at the same time.

  • Ensure you properly use any noise control devices
  • Follow any working methods that are put in place to protect your hearing
  • Attend all hearing checks
  • Wear any hearing protection you are given, and wear it properly following training
  • Take care of your hearing protection equipment

If you are experiencing problems with your hearing at work, it is essential that you let your employer know as soon as possible. Scrivens Hearing Care is here to help, so if you would like further information you are more than welcome to contact us if you have any further questions. Alternatively, you can read our hearing protection FAQs.