Have you considered a Noise Risk Assessment?
One of the first questions you as an employer need to ask yourself is ‘Is it worth our company having a noise risk assessment?’ If your working environment is particularly loud on a daily basis, employees are operating noisy tools and machinery, or employees find themselves shouting to be heard, the answer is yes – it is.
Noise Risk Assessments are needed where noise is or has the potential to be a hazard in the workplace. This is a requirement of the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.
A Noise Risk Assessment is required if any employee is likely to be exposed at or above the lower exposure action value (noise exposure level), in any of the below situations:
- Noisy power tools or machinery are used for more than half an hour a day
- For at least part of the day you need to use a raised voice to have a conversation with someone two meters away
- The noise is intrusive for most of the working day
- Working in noisy industries such as construction, road repair, engineering or manufacturing
- There are noises from impacts such as hammering, drop forging, and pneumatic impact tools
- There are noises from explosive sources, such as cartridge-operated tools, detonators or guns
If you feel your workplace is in need of a Noise Risk Assessment, please do not hesitate to call the team on 01909 565133
Managing Noise Risk
Once the risk of noise has been recognised, a Risk Assessment should be undertaken to review the type of control measures needed to protect employees from the risk of noise.
Whilst hearing protection is a method of safety, these measures only work so well, as they largely rely on the individual using the equipment properly. In many environments it is necessary to have the noise cut off or significantly lowered at the source; or, where this is not reasonably practicable, reduced to as low a level as is reasonably practicable.
Hydro-X have a dedicated team ready to complete an onsite Noise Risk Assessment; produce the results; suggest the necessary changes to be made; offer advice on the correct personal protection equipment; and how to reduce noise on site.
For the UK the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 and for Ireland the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2006) state that it is the employer’s duty to remove or reduce risks to health and safety from noise at work.
Controlling the noise
Once the noise risk has been recognised, a formal programme of measures to reduce noise exposure is required and should be implemented whenever an employee’s exposure to noise is likely to exceed the upper exposure action values (hearing protection does not count as a control measure).
As a first priority, establish whether the noise exposure can be prevented or reduced by:
- Using quieter equipment or a different process to reduce, at source, the noise produced by a machine or process
- Using screen barriers, enclosures and absorbent materials to reduce the noise on its path to the people exposed
- Designing and laying out the workplace to create quiet workstations
- Improved working techniques to reduce noise levels
- Limiting the time people spend in noisy areas
- Introducing a purchasing policy for low noise machinery and equipment
- Regularly maintain the machinery and equipment that takes account of noise
When noise risk remains a risk, an employer must make hearing protection available upon request to any employee likely to be exposed above the lower exposure action value, and provide hearing protection to any employee likely to be exposed above the upper exposure action value. Remember, hearing protection should only be used as a last resort where there are risks to health and safety that cannot be controlled by other means.