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More deaf ears in Brussels

FOLLOWING hard on the heels of the recent proposals to reduce occupational exposure to vibration from plant and equipment, a new European Parliament Directive proposes to limit ambient daily noise exposure and thereby threaten the viability of many UK construction and quarrying jobs if adopted.

If accepted, the EU noise proposals would make it illegal for anyone to work in areas where the average ambient daily noise exposure levels are above 87dB(A) — and the wearing of hearing protectors cannot be taken into account when measuring for compliance with this legal limit. To put this into context, average street traffic generates around 87dB(A).

Promoted by Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Danish Socialist MEP also responsible for the vibration proposals, eight Amendments to what were previously regarded as moderately sensible proposals for the Physical Agents (Noise) Directive look set to be voted on at the plenary session of the European Parliament on 18 February.

Commenting on the proposals, Martin Isles, the Quarry Products Association’s health, safety and environment officer, said: ‘By introducing such extreme measures that are impossible to comply with, the same EU official who is responsible for the vibration issue is once again threatening the future employment of millions of workers across Europe. It is difficult to see how this equates to any form of social justice.’

The QPA has responded to the proposals by commissioning the Vibrock consultancy to produce a rapid evaluation of the costs to the quarrying industry which would result from the imposition of this ambient exposure limit.


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