Human Resources

Noise and vibration

Noise

Exposure to workplace noise can be intermittent or continuous but is likely to be repetitive over a long period of time.  

Hearing

When noise is too loud, it can damage the hair cells located within the ear which in turn can lead to a temporary hearing impairment.  If left untreated and unprotected, continued exposure can lead to permanent hearing loss. Hearing loss happens gradually and reflects the period of time exposed.

Permanent hearing loss cannot be corrected and can have a serious effect on a person's sense of safety, thier environment and ability to socialise.  Legislation (Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005) requires noise to be assessed for risk and controlled at source to ensure it does not exceed exposure limit values.  The University has developed a comprehensive health surveillance programme for those regularly exposed to excessive noise. 

Tinnitus

Tinnitus can also occur as a consequence of noise exposure.  The symptoms include on-going ringing, buzzing or whistling in the ears which can lead to sleep disruption, lack of concentration and depression. 

Vibration 

Physical effects can be caused to the body from using vibrating tools and equipment including drills, chainsaws, grinders, machinery and some vehicles.  Depending on the source, vibration can effect either the hand and arm or the whole body.  The effects are cumulative - as exposure increases so too does the symptoms.  

Vibration White Finger

Vibration White Finger is a relatively common condition which can affect regular users of vibration equipment.  It causes numbness or tingling of the finger tips as a consequence of the damage to affected blood vessels and nerves.  If not treated, the condition becomes more severe and can lead to complete loss of feeling and colour.  In extreme cases there could be considerable pain and eventual loss of the finger/s.