Advice For Controlling Noise Levels At WorkAdvice For Controlling Noise Levels At Work

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) approximately two million people are exposed to noise levels at work, which could potentially be damaging. Furthermore, a staggering 500,000 suffer from hearing loss due to being exposed to noise at work.

To help prevent people from suffering from hearing loss as a result of being exposed to dangerous levels of noise at work, regulations are in place, designed to ensure employers control noise levels and safeguard workers.

The Noise Regulations 2005 require employers to reduce or prevent risks to hearing and health from exposure to noise at work.

To control sound levels within a working environment, exposure limits levels are in place. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 stipulate the noise level at which employers are legally permitted to provide hearing protection, as well as implement hearing protection zones, is 85 decibels of daily or weekly exposure. However, the control noise level regulations also require employers to assess the risk their employees are exposed to, as well as providing them with training and information about hearing safety, if noise levels are found to reach or exceed 80 decibels.

The Noise at Work regulations also state that employees must not be exposed to a noise exposure value of 87 decibels, accounting for any reductions created by hearing protection.

Control noise level advice

If, following an assessment of noise exposure in a working environment, it is found that noise levels do reach those deemed as requiring action by the Noise at Work regulations, the employer must carry out a number of actions.

These actions include looking for quieter processes within the workforce, such as using quieter equipment and machinery, looking for alternative procedures that could be conducted in a less noisy manner, reducing exposure time, modifying equipment to dampen and control noise levels, creating quieter areas and maintaining good sound control practices within the company.

If, for example, a manufacturing unit relied on a bowl feeder that generated levels of noise deemed as being dangerous by the Noise at Work Regulations, an effective way to control noise levels would be to line the feeder with a rubber layer. This rubber layer would help dampen down and reduce the levels of noise created.

Another example of how to control noise level intensity within a working environment could be related to pneumatic knives. Pneumatic knives are vital tools for many manufacturing processes, for example, the manufacturing of roof tiles. One solution to reduce the impact and control the sound level of the pneumatic tiles would be to use piped exhausts to act as silencers.

The Noise at Work Regulations are centred on a European Union Directive, which requires similar laws to be in force across the European Union, designed to control sound level and safeguard the hearing of employees of various industries and trades.

Compliance with the Regulations, not only helps protect the health and safety of workers, but ensures employers do not run the risk of being taken to court and sued over health and safety negligence.

by Scott Carter
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