4 mins read

Excessive Noise Exposure In The Workplace

Excessive Noise Exposure In The Workplace

There’s so much that goes into excessive noise in the office than simply the sameness of the workforce. Excessive noise exposure in the workplace can result in permanent or temporary hearing impairment, in addition to tinnitus, a disturbing condition that is exhibited by ringing in the ears. A report revealed by the HSE revealed that around 21,000 workers in the UK are suffering from work-related hearing impairment. Young folks are just as vulnerable to hearing damage; but sometimes extended exposure, in addition to the effects of ageing, means most people don’t know the full extent of their hearing impairment until much later.

Because of this, Health and Safety Managers must ascertain that they stick to noise-at-work directives, ensuring they are compliant with the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 Act. It stipulates a range of requirements for employers:

  • Evaluate the noise dangers for your staff
  • Ascertain noise doesn’t exceed the legal limits
  • Execute necessary measures to minimise excessive noise exposure
  • Proceed with soundproofing stud wall if necessary
  • In case the noise cannot be minimised, offer staff alternative hearing protection
  • Ensure staff get training, instruction, and information
  • Carry out a health surveillance programme if there’s a health risk

Do You Need to Conduct a Risk Assessment?

If your occupation entails being exposed to excessive noise such as construction, airport, or highway repair, then the need for noise assessment is apparent. But not all employers know why it’s important to carry out a risk assessment. To determine this, here are some of the questions you should ask:

  1. Is the noise invasive, and does it extend through the day?
  2. Do your staff use noisy equipment or power tools for more than 30 minutes every day?
  3. Do your staff frequently raise their voices when communicating, whereas they are approximately 2m apart?
  4. Are the noises explosive or high-impact? This encompasses cartridge-operated tools and pneumatic drills.

If any of the aforementioned circumstances apply to your situation at the office, then you need to implement measures to address the excessive noise.

Action Levels and Limit Values

Before undertaking a risk evaluation, it’s essential that you know what is considered loud — or putting it scientifically, the action levels and limit values.

Government legislation mandates employers to take appropriate measures at particular levels of noise. They are measured in decibels (dB) and stated as A- weighted (the way the human ear perceives sound) and C-weighted (maximum sound levels over 100dB). A-weighted are generally over a day or week; C-weighted peak sound pressure monitor peak daily noise.

Watch out for 80, 85, and 87 dB values with peak readings like these:

  • Exposure limit values
  • Daily or weekly exposure of 87 dB
  • Maximum sound pressure level of 140 dB
  • Upper action values
  • Daily or weekly exposure of 85 dB
  • Maximum sound pressure level of 137 dB
  • Lower action values
  • Daily or weekly exposure of 80 dB
  • Maximum sound pressure level of 135 dB

It is integral that you comprehend the importance of these limits outlined by the regulations, as they decide the kind of remedial measure that needs to be carried out by the employer. Make sure that you adhere to these regulations.

The Risk Assessment

If your staff is at risk of experiencing excessive noise exposure while at work, then the first thing you should do to remedy the situation is by carrying out a Risk Assessment. This will largely entail:

  • Pinpointing noise hazards and those most at risk
  • Measuring exposure levels: This will also include action levels and limit values
  • Recording the results of the evaluation

The results of the risk assessment will assist you take the right remedial actions.