The Listen Ear™ Personal Noise Dose Meter constantly monitors sound levels throughout the working day and displays visual dose alerts. Because of this employees know when their daily Occupational Health and Safety, Legal Noise Protection Limit, is reached and they can take action to avoid possible hearing damage. For employers this means the risks of claims for industrial hearing loss are greatly reduced.

So what are the typical sound (dB) levels experienced throughout the day and how do the visual dose alerts warn you of potential over exposure to noise?

Typical Noise Levels
Table of typical noise levels
Visual Dose Alerts
Listen Ear™ visual dose alerts

Figure A – Shows the Listen Ear™ Personal Noise Dose Meter monitoring sound level where the user is working within the Occupational Health and Safety Legal Noise Protection Limit.

Figure B – Shows the Listen Ear™ Personal Noise Dose Meter warning the user they have reached 70%* exposure of their daily Occupational Health and Safety Legal Noise Protection Limit.

Figure C – Shows the Listen Ear™ Personal Noise Dose Meter warning the user they have reached 90%* exposure of their daily Occupational Health and Safety Legal Noise Protection Limit.

The 70% and 90% values are the default values of the Listen Ear™ Personal Noise Dose Meter. These values can be replaced by any custom value. The Listen Ear™ Personal Noise Dose Meter can also be set for use whilst wearing or not wearing ear defenders. The ear defender SNR values are applied by selecting from one of the pre-loaded ear defender models or by applying a custom value.

A quintessential sound of the British countryside or an irritating source of noise pollution? The answer it seems, lies in the ears of the listener.

When a local council received a complaint that the local bell ringers were becoming a nuisance, they needed to reassure local residents that noise levels hadn’t increased significantly and definitely weren’t a threat to health.

Whilst there had been a church on the site for over 800 years and the residents must have known it was there when they bought the house, the council recognised that they did have a point when claiming that nobody had ever checked that the noise from the bells wasn’t harmful.

When they started to research noise damage, it became clear that much more is now understood about the long term, cumulative, damage possible from noise exposure and that it is an issue that needs to be taken seriously. Even if the noise has been part of our environment for centuries.

A sound survey was the first proposed solution but, with initial estimates coming in at £2000 – £3000 for a one-off survey, was going to be prohibitively expensive. Especially if it needed repeating several times.

After researching the market for different options, it was decided that the simplest, and most cost effective, solution was to treat the residents as “workers” and measure their “daily dose” of noise. This would not only provide a measure of the actual noise level the residents were exposed to but also include any other possible noise sources. As damage to health from noise is known to be cumulative, other noise sources needed to be taken into account as well.

The noise “Dosimeter” selected was Listen Ear™ from Pambry Electronics. This is a simple, wearable device that costs less than £300 and has the huge advantage of a 4 week battery life. Using Listen Ear™ it was possible to simply charge the unit and set it to log noise measurements then give it to local residents to wear for a few days. The display on the meter shows instantaneous noise levels and % of a safe daily dose with warning lights if there is a risk of harm. If desired the resident can be given a simple, free, App to monitor their noise exposure on a tablet or phone.

Listen Ear™ App Screens

Once the Listen Ear™ has been recovered it’s a simple matter to check the actual noise dose measured and download a detailed log file for archiving or detailed analysis.

This “self-survey” approach has the additional benefit of reassuring the residents that the survey really does represent the noise they are exposed to.

For less than the cost of an initial survey, the local council have shown that the bell noise really isn’t a threat to hearing health and they know have a simple tool to measure possible noise problems anywhere else in the community.

Exposure to loud noise in the workplace for long periods of time can have serious health implications on your hearing, but you may not know that this prolonged exposure can also have an affect on mental and physical health too?

A noisy workplace environment of around 85 decibels (dBA) where you must raise your voice to be heard by someone three feet away can damage your hearing after repeated exposures of eight hours or more.

At 95 dBA or more where you need to shout to be heard by someone at arm’s length – your hearing can be put at risk in less than an hour. Heavy plant machinery, chain saws, and other such equipment used in manufacturing, fabrication, welding and construction industries all operate around 95 dBA.

Here are some other factors to consider if you work in a noisy environment.

Stress and high blood pressure

In addition to damaging hearing, loud noise can cause other physical and psychological conditions including stress. Often the short-term effects of noise related stress go unnoticed or are blamed on other things.

Loud noise can influence the cardiovascular system, resulting in an increase in blood pressure and the release of catecholamines in the blood. An increased level of catecholamines in the blood is associated with stress.

Effect on pregnancy

Research suggests that an unborn child exposed to prolonged loud noise levels may influence the hearing of the child in later life with low frequencies having a greater potential for causing harm.

Accidents and injuries    

Other impacts of prolonged noise exposure on the health of a worker include reduced communication and concentration and a contribution to workplace accidents and injuries with difficulty in hearing warning signals.

However, noise exposure in the workplace can be reduced and occupational hearing loss entirely prevented with today’s hearing loss prevention strategies and technology such as Pambry Electronics Listen Ear™ – Personal Noise Dose Meter.

In summary it is very important for employers to carry out regular occupational health assessments for their workers with checks for symptoms over exposure to loud noise such as hearing loss and increased blood pressure.

Workers in the Construction Industry are surrounded by high-noise levels from heavy equipment.

Hearing Loss Facts

Research has shown that long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dBA can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for noise induced hearing loss to occur.

Construction Site Hearing Loss and Health & Safety

  • Workers with hearing loss can potentially miss audible warning signals.
  • Hearing loss may lead to a breakdown in communication.
  • Increased effort to listen by hearing impaired workers may lead to fatigue, anxiety, and stress.
  • Workers may also suffer from tinnitus, causing them to hear ringing, rushing, or other noises even when there are no surrounding sounds

How to Protect Hearing and Prevent Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Noise induced hearing loss among construction site workers is preventable. Some important measures that can be taken include:

  • Wearing hearing protective devices such as earplugs, earmuffs or headsets and selecting the right device for your working environment is important.
  • Ensure you are wearing a hearing protective device that meets the proper SNR for the sound level measured in your work environment.
  • Choose a hearing protection solution that is unobtrusive and doesn’t restrict workers, like the Pambry Electronics Listen Ear™ – Personal Noise Dose Meter, so they will always keep it on in all high noise work environments.