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Control Measures

If these cannot be achieved click on the headings below to discover the noise hierarchy of control measures.

Control Measures

If these cannot be achieved click on the headings below to discover the noise hierarchy of control measures.

Ear Protection


  • Make sure the protectors give enough protection – aim at least to get below 85 dB at the ear;
  • Select protectors which are suitable for the working environment – consider how comfortable and hygienic they are;
  • Think about how they will be worn with other protective equipment (eg hard hats, dust masks and eye protection);
  • Provide a range of protectors so that employees can choose ones which suit them.


  • Provide protectors which cut out too much noise – this can cause isolation, where the wearer might not hear emergency signals;
  • Rely on hearing protectors where better controls are available – PPE is the last line of defence;
  • Have a ‘blanket’ approach to hearing protection – better to target its use and only encourage people to wear it when they need to.




Ear defenders and Ear plugs if properly fitted: can reduce noise by 15-30 dB


Employee Responsibilities

The Health and Safety at Work Act requires and The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 employees to:

  • Co-operate with your employer to do what is needed to protect your hearing. Use properly any noise-control devices (eg noise enclosures), and follow any working methods that are put in place.
  • Wear any hearing protection you are given Wear it properly (you should be trained how to do this), and make sure you wear it when you are doing noisy work, and when you are in hearing protection zones. Taking it off even for a short while means that your hearing could still be damaged
  • Look after your hearing protection, your employer should explain this. Make sure you understand what you need to do.
  • Attend hearing checks if required. It is in your interest that any signs of damage to your hearing are detected as soon as possible, and certainly before the damage becomes disabling.
  • Report any problems with noise-control devices or your hearing protection straight away.


For more information, please visits the HSE information hub on Noise.



Employer Responsibilities

Remember, the law places responsibility for Health and Safety on both employers and employees.



Employers are legally required to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees as far as is reasonably practicable*.


They must:

  • Reduce noise exposure as far as is reasonably practicable
  • Provide your employees with hearing protectors if they ask for it and their noise exposure is between the lower and upper exposure action values between lower 80dB(A) and upper 85dB(A)
  • Provide your employees with hearing protectors and make sure they use them properly when their noise exposure exceeds the upper exposure action value: 85dB (A)
  • Identify hearing protection zones, ie areas where the use of hearing protection is compulsory, and mark them with signs if possible
  • Provide your employees with training and information on how to use and care for the hearing protection
  • Ensure that the hearing protectors are properly used and maintained.


Download the Noise at work: A brief guide to controlling the risks

* The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Section 2
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005


Worked Example


David is at work on a busy construction site. He has been tasked to use a drill to make some fixing points in concrete.


David remembers his site induction told him he must wear hearing protection if operating noisy equipment. He also remembers that he must warn others in the area if he is going to expose them to excessive noise.


David warns the people in his work area and they leave the area while the noisy activity is going to take place.


David does not have any hearing protection but feels that he should be ok as the task will not take long.


Reducing the Risks


There are many ways of reducing noise and noise exposure. All businesses should decide on practical, cost-effective actions to control noise risks, if necessary by looking at the advice available (eg the HSE website).


Controlling noise – First think about how to remove the source of noise altogether, for example; housing a noisy machine where it cannot be heard by workers. If that is not possible, investigate: using quieter equipment or a different, quieter process.


If these cannot be achieved click on the headings below to discover the noise hierarchy of control measures.

Common Noise Hazards

Identifying noise hazards in the workplace is the first step in controlling noise at work.


By identifying things with the potential to cause harm, we can consider ways to eliminate or reduce the likelihood of harm.


Match the noise levels to the images by dragging the noise level over the matching image.

How Noise Affects Us

The level at which employers must provide hearing protection and hearing protection zones is now 85 decibels (daily or weekly average exposure) and the level at which employers must assess the risk to workers’ health and provide them with information and training is now 80 decibels.


There is also an exposure limit value of 87 decibels, taking account of any reduction in exposure provided by hearing protection, above which workers must not be exposed.


Your hearing is at risk if you need to raise your voice to have a normal conversation when about 2m apart.


Here is a video explaining how loud noise affects our hearing:


Click here to view the full text of The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005


Welcome to this short course on Noise Awareness.


Noise at work can cause hearing loss that can be temporary or permanent. People often experience temporary deafness after leaving a noisy place. Although hearing recovers within a few hours, this should not be ignored. It is a sign that if you continue to be exposed to the noise your hearing could be permanently damaged.




HSE figures state that 2 million people are exposed to noise at work which may be harmful. Some 17,000 people in the UK suffer deafness, ringing in the ears or other ear conditions caused by excessive noise at work.




There is also a short assessment.

You will need 5/6 to pass.