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Noise At Work

Volume 173: debated on Tuesday 22 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether his Department will commission any research into the effectiveness of the noise at work regulations.

The Health and Safety Executive is already planning to evaluate those regulations. During 1991 and 1992 it will be undertaking a survey of the extent to which the required measures have been carried out in industry.

Is the Minister aware that hundreds and probably thousands of people in St. Helens have had their hearing severely impaired by the dreadful noise levels that appertain in the glass industry and that they are still not covered by the noise at work regulations? Will the Minister accept an invitation from me to visit a glass factory in St. Helens so that I can convince him of the justice that those workers deserve?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his courtesy in telling me that he wished to raise this issue. As I understand the position, the regulations apply to all places of work. I can see no reason why they should not apply to such a place of work. If the hon. Gentleman can tell me why he has been given that information or where the information has come from, I promise that I shall look into it at once.

Will the research into noise at work include the House of Commons? The noise here and the audibility of the system are such as to make work almost impossible sometimes.

The powers of the Government may be great, but they are not sufficient to take care of the level or quality of the noise in the House. I am afraid that both may defeat us.