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Hazard
Noise

Hazard Knowledge

Fire and rescue service personnel may need to work in noisy environments; noise could be produced by: 

  • On-site machinery 
  • Vehicles 
  • Activated alarms or warning systems 
  • Fire and rescue service activities, including the use of equipment 
  • Munitions 
  • Explosions 
  • Crowds of people 
  • Music 

The hazards may include: 

  • Hearing loss 
  • Impaired communication 
  • Impaired operational awareness 

Hearing loss 

Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by prolonged exposure to excessive levels of noise – for example, in noisy workplaces, or while listening to loud music. It can also be caused by extremely loud bursts of sound such as gunshots and explosions that can lead to some damage within the ear structures. The effects of noise-induced hearing loss may not be noticed until years after exposure to loud noise. Some people experience tinnitus as the first sign that that their hearing has been damaged by noise. 

Further information about hearing health can be found on the Action on Hearing Loss website

Impaired communication 

When working in a noisy environment, normal communication methods may not be sufficient. The noise level may impact on emergency evacuation signals and affect the ability to hear an activated automatic distress signal unit (ADSU). 

Impaired operational awareness 

The noise level may make it difficult to hear distress calls from casualties when performing rescues. It may also impair the ability of personnel to hear moving vehicles or machinery, or even sounds from a moving or collapsing structure.