chapter  4
8 Pages

Development of workplace noise control in the UK

Early hunter-gatherers may have been exposed to high noise level from time to

time, and medieval blacksmiths and masons probably risked hearing damage as a

result of their trades, but it was not until the industrial revolution that large

numbers of workers were exposed to levels consistently high enough to cause

widespread damage to their hearing. It was probably recognized early in the

nineteenth century that the noise exposure in certain trades and industries

commonly caused permanent hearing impairment, but few employers regarded

the problem as their concern. Many affected workers may have accepted deafness

as being a necessary consequence of their occupation, and preferable to un-

employment. Certainly deafness was less serious than many of the other indus-

trial illnesses which were prevalent at that time, and to which the newly formed

UK Factory Inspectorate turned their attention.