3M, the diversified technology company, develops hearing products specifically aimed at the manufacturing industry, to try and help prevent workers suffering from workplace hearing loss.
Some 170,000 people in the UK suffer deafness, tinnitus or other ear conditions as a result of exposure to excessive noise at work and therefore exposure to noise at work continues to be a significant occupational hazard.
The UK manufacturing sector comprises a range of diverse industries employing over 3.2 million workers. It was highlighted as one of the industry groups with the highest average annual incidence rates of new cases qualifying for benefit (based on 2002-04 figures) alongside extraction, energy and water supply and construction, with hearing loss fast becoming one of the main causes of ill health. The current regulations – the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (Noise Regulations 2005), state that workers must be provided with hearing protection on request when noise levels reach or exceed 80dB(A). It is compulsory when levels reach 85dB (A).
Some typical noise levels associated with common tasks in the manufacturing industry include:
• Grinding on a pedestal grinder: 90-95 dB(A)
• Discharging metal objects into metal bins: 85-95 dB(A)
• General noise level in fabrication shop: 85-95 dB(A)
• Hammering steel: 95-100 dB(A)
• Guillotining: 95-100 dB(A)
• Multi-spindle automatic turning: 95-105 dB(A)
• Circular sawing metal: 95-105 dB(A)
o Blanking: 95-110 dB(A)
o Punch pressing: 110-120 dB(A)
• Riveting: 100-110 dB(A)
The regulations require employers to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to noise at work. If all manufacturing companies complied with these regulations, there would be a significant reduction in occupational noise-induced hearing loss. Although occupational noise-induced hearing loss is a totally preventable condition, once the permanent damage has been done there is no way of reversing the effects.
The most efficient and effective way of controlling noise is by protecting workers at source, e.g. changing processes, damping vibrations and reducing time spent in noisy areas. If these preventative measures have been carried out but noise is still a problem then selecting the right hearing protection is critical.
Expert hearing advice
Over the past year, through its acquisition of Aearo Technologies, 3M has widened its hearing protection product range to include leading brands E-A-R and Peltor. Importantly, along with the addition of these highly regarded brands, 3M has retained the hearing conservation expertise and experience that was previously offered by Aearo.
Richard Beardsley, Hearing Conservation Specialist, 3M, explains: “One of the biggest challenges to preventing hearing loss within the manufacturing sector is the education of staff. Hearing conservation is a service that we have offered over many years and now, as part of 3M we continue to present our hearing conservation presentation to support health and safety managers as they educate and train their workforce on the importance of protecting their hearing. We will advise the customer on various aspects of noise hazards and the damage that can be caused to the ear as we feel this information is essential to provide customers with the support they need to carry out their jobs safely.”
The Hearing Noise Check is another highly effective service that 3M is continuing to offer. A representative visits the workplace and uses a meter to check noise levels within the environment. This helps the company understand its noise hazards and provides further information to allow them to select appropriate hearing protection.
Both of these services are available to key customers in a variety of different formats which can be tailored to their specific needs. For more information about noise levels in your company call the 3M Health and Safety Helpline on 0870 60 800 60 (UK) or 1800 320 500 (Ireland).
For more information, visit www.3M.co.uk/ohes The 3M Health and Safety Helpline is available during office hours, Monday to Friday.
Notes to editors
3M, E.A.R. and Peltor are trademarks of 3M Company
 Statistics from Health and Safety Executive (HSE), key facts http://www.hse.gov.uk/noise/keyfacts.htm
 Statistics from HSE http://www.hse.gov.uk/food/hse.htm
 Statistics from HSE http://www.hse.gov.uk/food/noise.htm
3M – practical and ingenious solutions that help our customers succeed
3M is a $25 billion diversified technology company which, since 1902, has been creating innovative products that help make the world healthier, safer and more productive. Well known 3M brands include Scotch, Post-it, Scotchgard, Thinsulate and Scotch-Brite.
3M employs some 76,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 60 countries. It produces thousands of innovative products for customers in dozens of diverse markets and its 45 technology platforms touch nearly every aspect of modern life - the company has applied its expertise in RFID technology to deliver biometric passports; it is using its understanding of the healthcare industry to provide hospitals with infection prevention and detection solutions; and in 2008 it launched the world’s first hand-held pocket projector, the MPro110.
The UK and Ireland is home to one of the largest 3M subsidiaries outside the USA, employing more than 3,500 people across 18 locations, including 12 manufacturing sites.
Products manufactured in the UK include coated abrasives, occupational health and environmental safety equipment, adhesive tapes, industrial microbiology products, drug delivery systems, high-performance coatings, secure documents and passport scanners.
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