There’s still so much more to be done when it comes to controlling noise at work.
Although lots of steps have been taken to control noise in the workplace, we must follow the HSE 2005 Control of Noise at Work Regulations.
Over 17,000 people on an annual basis, suffer some kind of deafness, tinnitus, or other ear conditions as a result of exposure to excessive noise at work.
The problem seems to be that people are not understanding that there’s lots of different noise areas in workplaces, just going from one area to another can increase your noise levels. Also when staff go on a break they may listen to some music to relax and have the sound slightly too high and not giving their ears some quiet time to recover from any noisy machinery during their work day.
You may need Occupational Health to do a noise assessment this can be carried out on an annual basis.
How this works – You have a little sound meter on your clothing for a required number of hours during a normal workday, when you go through the different areas of your workplace this is all recorded. Then the meter will give you a daily reading for each employee of the decibel levels during their shift.
Depending on the results you will need to do some/all the following:
- The first step is identify the hazards – so are there any noise machine hazards?
- And then, you need to identify who is at risk. Is it just a certain group of people? Is it just one person, or is it a big group of people? Which areas, which tools, which equipment? And then, assess the noise.
- Then talk to the employees, find out what their normal, typical work routine is. Then if you can not stop this type of noisy work you may need to purchase some different types of ear protection. I would always recommend talking to your staff and seeing which type of ear protection they prefer maybe ear defenders or ear plugs – as you need the staff to wear these to protect themselves. The staff will need some training support on how to use them, how to clean and maintain them, what to do if they need replacing etc. I would also recommend getting this signed off to confirm understanding.
We measure noise in decibels.,
- 80 decibels is the lower exposure limit.
- 85 decibels is the upper exposure limit.
- 87 decibels is the legal limit.
So, depending on what you’re doing and for how long you may need to move staff around the different areas, give them additional breaks in quiet areas, monitor their noise by an annual assessment. When new equipment is purchased try and select the quieter ones – this information is now shown on the equipment documentation.
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