2021 Noise Risk Assessments
A noise risk assessment is performed to ensure the health and safety of the workers exposed to noise risks. Performing noise risk assessments help identify sources of noise risks and how they affect employees.
Noise at work can cause hearing loss that can be temporary or permanent. People often experience temporary deafness after leaving a noisy place. Although hearing recovers within a few hours, this should not be ignored. It is a sign that if you continue to be exposed to the noise your hearing could be permanently damaged. Permanent hearing damage can be caused immediately by sudden, extremely loud, explosive noises, eg from guns or cartridge-operated machines.
But hearing loss is usually gradual because of prolonged exposure to noise. It may only be when damage caused by noise over the years combines with hearing loss due to ageing that people realise how deaf they have become. This may mean their family complains about the television being too loud, they cannot keep up with conversations in a group, or they have trouble using the telephone. Eventually everything becomes muffled and people find it difficult to catch sounds like ‘t’, ‘d’ and ‘s’, so they confuse similar words.
Hearing loss is not the only problem. People may develop tinnitus (ringing, whistling, buzzing or humming in the ears), a distressing condition which can lead to disturbed sleep.
Noise At Work FAQ's
This will depend on how loud the noise is and how long people are exposed to it. As a simple guide you will probably need to do something about the noise if any of the following apply:
- Is the noise intrusive – like a busy street, a vacuum cleaner or a crowded restaurant – for most of the working day?
- Do your employees have to raise their voices to carry out a normal conversation when about 2 m apart for at least part of the day?
- Do your employees use noisy powered tools or machinery for more than half an hour each day?
- Do you work in a noisy industry, eg construction, demolition or road repair; woodworking; plastics processing; engineering; textile manufacture; general fabrication; forging, pressing or stamping; paper or board making; canning or bottling; foundries?
- Are there noises due to impacts (such as hammering, drop forging, pneumatic impact tools etc), explosive sources such as cartridge operated tools or detonators, or guns?
Noise can also be a safety hazard at work, interfering with communication and making warnings harder to hear.
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (Noise Regulations 2005) require employers to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to noise at work. Employees have duties under the Regulations too. The Regulations require you as an employer to:
- Assess the risks to your employees from noise at work;
- Take action to reduce the noise exposure that produces those risks;
- Provide your employees with hearing protection if you cannot reduce the noise exposure enough by using other methods;
- Make sure the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded;
- Provide your employees with information, instruction and training;
- Carry out health surveillance where there is a risk to health.
The Regulations do not apply to:
- members of the public exposed to noise from their non-work activities, or making an informed choice to go to noisy places;
- low-level noise that is a nuisance but causes no risk of hearing damage.
Employers in the music and entertainment sectors have until 6 April 2008 to comply with the Noise Regulations 2005. Meanwhile they must continue to comply with the Noise at Work Regulations 1989, which the 2005 Regulations replace for all other workplaces.
The Noise Regulations require you to take specific action at certain action values. These relate to:
- the levels of exposure to noise of your employees averaged over a working day or week; and
- the maximum noise (peak sound pressure) to which employees are exposed in a working day.
The values are:
- lower exposure action values:
- daily or weekly exposure of 80 dB;
- peak sound pressure of 135 dB;
- upper exposure action values:
- daily or weekly exposure of 85 dB;
- peak sound pressure of 137 dB.
The actions you need to take are described in the rest of the employers’ web pages. The flow chart in Figure 1 will also help you decide what you need to do.
There are also levels of noise exposure which must not be exceeded. These are called exposure limit values:
- daily or weekly exposure of 87 dB;
- peak sound pressure of 140 dB.
Why choose GR Safety Solutions for your noise assessments?
- Our professional health & safety consultants are available 24/7 to advise and support you on any health & safety issues.
- We’re highly qualified to carry out your risk assessments for you
- We can act as your competent person
- We create health & safety policies, procedures and management systems bespoke to your business
- We can help you achieve and promote a positive health & safety culture
Noise Risk Assessments at Work
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