Review by Stephen Wheatley


In this webinar, we hear from:

Stephen Wheatley, UKHCA and LimitEar/HearAngel Ltd – An update on the activities of the World Health Organisation Make Listening Safe Campaign. A look at the possible risks to hearing for those who use headphones for work or at work

Professor Tony Wright – Answering participants questions


What is Reproduced Sound?

Reproduced Sound refers to sound which is ‘reproduced’ by the speakers of a headphone or headset as distinct from acoustic sound which is the un-processed sound reaching the users ears.


What is the difference between using headphones for work versus using headphones at work?

Due to the nature of their occupation some employees are unable to do their job without wearing headphones so have to use headphones for work.


In numerous work settings, in open plan offices for example, the use of headphones is permitted by the employer. The employee does not require the headphones for their work but are permitted to use them at work.


In both cases the Noise at Work Regulations 2005 are applicable and the employees sound dose exposure must not exceed the limits specified.


What are the risks for those using headphones for work?

When looking at the risks of employees using headphones at work we need to consider the following:

  • Is the use of headphones essential?
  • What is the safe listening period?
  • What is the ambient noise?
  • Residual ambient?
  • Listening level?
  • Risk of transient sounds?
  • How long do they listen?
  • Programme material?
  • What is the safe listening period now?


What are the risks for those using headphones at work?

The risks for those using headphones at work are the same as for those who use headphones for work and a similar approach is recommended.


What can we do about it?

In both cases it is important to understand if the employee has exclusive personal use of a pair of headphones or if the headphones they use are shared with others.


If employees have the exclusive personal use of a pair of headphones the least intrusive and effective solution is an in-line individual dosimetry device which monitors the user’s sound dose (how long they listen, how loud they listen and the energy content of what they listen to) giving warnings when they are approaching the limits specified by the regulations and gently intervening to reduce the volume level if they are at risk.


If employees have to share headphones the headphones should be fitted with an in line fixed level limiter to prevent the dose level exceeding the levels specified by the regulations


To discuss specific applications or for more information please contact