Employers who fail to curb the behaviour of very noisy staff face unlimited fines or even imprisonment under new health and safety regulations that the Government is planning to introduce next year.

The new regime for safe noise exposure at work has been drawn up by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and may lead to some office workers wearing headphones. Ministers are set to approve the rules, which introduce a European Union directive lowering the decibel exposure limit from 85 to 80 decibels (dB).

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