How loud is too loud?


Sounds under 85dB are safe to listen to – you don’t need to use any hearing protection. But if you work in a noisy environment and the sound levels reach 80dB, your employer should assess the risk to your hearing and give you information about this.

85dB is the level at which your hearing can become damaged over time. The length of time you can ‘safely’ be exposed to sound over 85dB without needing to use hearing protection depends on how loud it is.

The safe exposure time for 85dB is eight hours. As sound intensity doubles with every increase of 3dB, the safe exposure time halves. So, for example, the safe exposure time for 88dB is four hours (see guide below).

For sounds of 110–120dB, even a very short exposure time can cause hearing damage. 


What can I do to protect my hearing?


The important thing to remember is that you can take preventative measures to protect your hearing. These include:

  • Reducing the time you are exposed to high noise levels. 
  • Turn the volume down on MP3 players or other personal music devices and use sound-excluding headphone or ear buds.
  • Avoid using too many noisy appliances on at the same time at home.
  • When purchasing new products check the dB rating, the lower the better.
  • Move further away form any source of loud noise.
  • Wear hearing protection when around loud noise e.g. using noisy equipment, at a concert etc...

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*Thank you to Hearing Link for allowing us to reproduce their infographic.