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What happens if a worker refuses to wear hearing protection?

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You need to ensure workers use hearing protection when required to do so. You may want to include the need to wear hearing protection in your safety procedures and put someone in authority in overall charge of issuing it and making sure replacement hearing protection is readily available. You may also want to carry out spot checks to see that the rules are being followed and that hearing protection is being used properly.

If employees persistently fail to use protectors properly that might become an employment issue and you should follow your normal company disciplinary procedures.

You should also ensure that all managers and supervisors set a good example and wear hearing protection at all times when in hearing protection zones.

Why do businesses have to reduce noise at source when workers can wear hearing protection?

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Reducing noise levels is the best way to reduce the risk of noise-related hearing loss. The effectiveness of hearing protection such asearmuffs, ear plugs, semi-inserts depends on its condition and whether it fits correctly. It also relies on individual workers using the equipment correctly. They can also fail or be inefficient without this being visibly obvious.

Refer to Noise in Manufacturing Factsheet.

How can I do work on a machine (such as cleaning, clearing, setting and maintenance) safely?

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Before you begin working on a machine, whether carrying out maintenance, repairs or changing tooling, you should first work out your Safe System of Work (SSoW). The SSoW should be completed following a risk assessment and should consider issues such as:

  • proper isolation
  • permits to work
  • electrical hazards
  • mechanical hazards
  • what props may be needed to prevent mechanical parts moving under gravity
  • procedures to release stored energy before working on them
  • other hazards associated with the task, such as work at height, asbestos etc.
  • restoring the machine to its normal operating equipment (eg replacing fixed guards, ensuring interlocks are working properly)

Once you have assessed the risks and devised your SSoW, you should make sure workers are properly trained and provided with the right equipment to carry out the task safely.

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