Is noise an issue for the workplace?
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 require you to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to noise at work.
Regulations require the employer to:
- Assess the risks to employees from noise at work
- Take action to reduce the noise exposure that produces those risks
- Provide employees with hearing protection if the noise cannot be reduced
- Make sure the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded
- Provide employees with information, instruction and training
- Carry out health surveillance where there is a risk to health.
How to protect workers
Firstly, find out if there is a noise problem.
- Is the noise intrusive for most of the working day?
- Do employees have to raise their voices to carry out a normal conversation when about 2m apart for at least part of the day?
- Do employees use noisy power tools or machinery for more than half an hour each day?
Then, assess and control the risks:
- Measure the noise levels
- Put in a programme of noise reduction if needed
- Maintain plant and machinery
- Look for quieter processes.
Provide information, instruction and training. Tell workers:
- The likely noise exposure
- What is happening to control risks and exposures
- Where and how people can obtain hearing protection
- How to report defects in hearing protection and noise-control equipment
- What their duties are under the Noise Regulations 2005
- What they should do to minimise the risk, such as the proper way to use hearing protection.
Implement health surveillance:
- Provide regular hearing checks in controlled conditions
- Tell employees about the results of their hearing checks
- Keep health records
- Ensure employees are examined by a doctor where hearing damage is identified.
Ignoring a noise problem in the workplace can cause misery to employees who may suffer deafness and tinnitus. This can be prevented and at the same time, save money and court appearances by assessing noise now.
Don’t wait for a claim.