Noise At Work

 

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 established the regulations relating to occupational noise exposure, with the aim to protect the hearing of workers. Noise is a common issue particularly high-risk environments including building sites, workshops and nightclubs where people are susceptible to noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus.

Noise at Work Levels

When assessing noise at work, the exposure that each employee experiences should be assessed based on noise exposure levels corrected for an 8-hour working day. The level at which employers must assess the risk to workers’ health and provide them with information and training is now 80 decibels. 

The level at which employers must provide hearing protection and hearing protection zones is now 85 decibels (daily or weekly average exposure). There is also an exposure limit value of 87 decibels, taking account of any reduction in exposure provided by hearing protection, above which workers must not be exposed.

Noise at Work Risk Assessments

If the daily personal noise exposure is likely to exceed 80 decibels or above over long periods of time on a daily basis, a noise risk assessment must be conducted to deduce whether such noise level exposure comes at a detriment to workers’ hearing. A noise assessment is generally required if the employee:

  • Is surrounded by intrusive noise for most of the working day
  • Has to raise his/her voice to be heard by someone just two metres away, for at least part of the day
  • Uses noisy powered tools or machinery for more than 30 minutes each day
  • Works in construction, road repair, engineering or manufacturing
  • Causes impacts such as hammering, drop forging, pneumatic impact tolls etc
  • Works with explosive sources such as cartridge-operated tools, detonators or guns

Assessments provide sufficient information on noise levels to identify the correct form of action necessary to reduce exposure and the number of employees affected by it. It is an employer’s responsibility to assess and identify measures to eliminate and reduce risks associated with high levels of noise exposure in order to protect the hearing of employees.

Particularly in high-risk environments, this usually requires a prioritised noise action plan. Typical measures used to address noise risks ranging from supplying hearing protection, providing adequate information and formal training.

For further information on the Noise Regulations and how they may affect your business please visit the Health and Safety Executive Noise at work.

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