Why do I need a noise at work assessment?
Noise at work assessments are essential, as it is a legal requirement for all employers to protect their employees from workplace noise. The law that governs this is the Control of Noise at Work Regulation 2005 which came into effect in April 2006. Its aim is to ensure that workers’ hearing is protected from excessive workplace noise.
What are noise exposure action values and limits?
Noise exposure is defined over an 8-hour working day dB LEP, d or 40-hour working week dB LEP, w. Therefore, the limits that apply are personal average and peak exposures over these time periods.
Lower Exposure Action Values (LEAV):
A daily or weekly personal exposure of 80 dB(A) or a peak level of 135 dB(C).
Upper Exposure Action Values (UEAV):
A daily or weekly personal exposure of 85 dB(A) or a peak level of 137 dB(C).
Exposure Limit Values (ELV):
A daily or weekly personal exposure of 87 dB(A) or a peak level of 140 dB(C).
As an employer what am I required to do?
As an employer you are required to:
- Identify and assess those employees likely to be at risk of hearing damage.
- Create a management summary in line with the assessment’s findings.
- Implement procedures to prevent and reduce the noise exposure.
- Ensure the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded.
- Where there is a risk to health, the requirements can increase.
- Provide your employees with information, instruction and training.
- Carry out continuous health surveillance.
- Provide hearing protection as a last resort.
Employees who are at risk
Typically, any employee who works in a “noisy” environment could be at risk. This may include:
- Manufacturing operatives.
- Factory workers.
- Nightclub workers.
- Construction workers.
- Roadside workers.
Examples of risk assessment actions
The type of actions an employer should take depend on the level of risk.
So if its below the LEAV, an employer should reduce noise levels as far as reasonably practicable. However, where the LEAV could be exceeded a noise risk assessment should be undertaken. Some necessary strategies at this stage of risk include:
- Noise awareness training should be provided.
- A review of equipment used should be undertaken to reduce exposure.
- Changing working patterns to limit an employee’s exposure.
- In the short term, hearing protection should be made available.
Where exposure could exceed the UEAV, the requirements increase to also include:
- Establish and implement a programme of control measures.
- Where these controls cannot reduce exposure below the LEAV then:
- Suitable hearing protection must be worn.
- An audiometric health surveillance programme must be implemented.
If exposure exceeds the ELV, an employer must reduce below limit values. It is only at this stage, hearing protection can be considered in the assessment.
Our assessment approach
Our consultants are experienced in noise risk assessments and will guide you through the process. In addition, they will help you put together a management plan to prevent and reduce workplace noise.
Sound Solution Consultants guidance on noise at work assessments aims to be first-rate, in accordance with The Health and Safety Executive guidance for employers “Noise Assessments – Getting what you need” .
The report you receive from us is comprehensive and will include (where appropriate) information including:
- Noise control measures in a management summary.
- Identification of employees likely to be at risk of hearing damage.
- Daily or weekly personal noise exposure, including average and peak levels.
- Employer’s and employees’ legal duties relevant to estimated exposure levels.
- Detail of noise levels used to calculate exposure assessment.
- Commentary on activities giving rise to risk.
- Combination of handheld measurements and personal dosimetry.
- Suggestions for priorities of controlling noise.
- Hearing protection assessment (BS EN 458) and suggestion of alternatives.
- Determination of Hearing Protection Zones and appropriate signage.
Standard reporting text includes:
- Name of person responsible for the assessment.
- Equipment used.
- Activities assessed.
- Annotated sketch plans.
- Health surveillance appraisal.
- Noise control solutions.
- Advice on low noise purchasing policy.
- A glossary of acoustic terms.
Please note, that once you have a management plan in place. Any changes to machinery, working methods etc. that are in your plan. Will mean that you will need to carry out another noise at work assessment.
The Health and Safety Executive provides various useful information, that assists with employers’ and employees’ understanding of noise at work assessments and requirements. Please see external links for:
- Controlling noise at work – The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 – Guidance on Regulations
- Noise at work – A brief guide to controlling the risks
- Guidance for employees, Noise – Don’t lose your hearing
- Noise exposure calculators
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