Noise surveys are required by law to be completed by all employers where working conditions are likely to expose employees to daily or weekly noise levels of 80dB(A). When noise levels exceed 85dB(A) then measures must be put in place such as providing hearing protection, health screening and hearing tests.
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 reduced the noise threshold at which workplace noise must be addressed. They require employers to complete health and safety risk assessments where there is a threat to the safety of employees due to excessive noise in their place of work.
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 requires employers to monitor noise levels in the work place and to take actions to eliminate or reduce employees’ exposure to high noise levels. There are 2 key measurements the employer must monitor, these being;
The general noise levels employees are exposed to on a daily or weekly basis. Various actions must be taken at 80dB(A), and 85dB(A) with a maximum exposure level of 87dB(A) which must not be exceeded.
The maximum noise level employees are exposed to which must not be exceeded. Various actions must be taken at 135db(C), 137dB(C), with a maximum noise level of 140dB(C)
The processes listed below are particularly (but not exclusively) associated with high noise levels.
Glass bottling lines: 85-100dB(A)
Product impact on hoppers: 90-100dB(A)
Wrapping, cutting wrap, bagging etc: 85-95dB(A)
Bowl choppers: > 90db(A)
Pneumatic noise and compressed air: 85-95dB(A)
Milling operations: 85-100dB(A)
Saws/cutting machinery: 85-107dB(A)
Blast chillers/freezers: 85-107dB(A)
Packaging machinery: 85-95dB(A)
Wheeled trolleys/racks: up to 107dB(A) (from wheel bearings)
(Source HSE 2016)
In addition employees in common trades such as carpentry and construction work are likely to be subject to noise levels above legal limits.
Exposure to high noise levels can cause temporary or even permanent damage to hearing. Everyone has probably experienced a temporary ringing in the ears after attending a noisy concert or social gathering but these symptoms tend to disappear after a few hours. However persistent exposure to loud noise can result in permanent hearing loss, tinnitus or other health problems.
It is estimated that about 2 million people in the UK may be exposed to harmful noise levels in their workplace. An estimated 15,000 people working during 2014 suffered from Noise Induced Hearing Loss caused or made worse by work. (Source HSE) The Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit scheme (IIDB) had 130 new claims in 2014 compared with 120 in 2013. Since 2012 there have been more than 200,000 civil claims in the UK courts for industrial deafness (Source Association of British Insurers).
All surveys comply with the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 and are completed by our fully qualified and trained consultants. In order to understand your current working practices they will ask about your existing noise control measures, noise management procedures and provisions in place to protect hearing. Our consultants will work with you to help mitigate noise and develop a noise control strategy.
Noise assessments will be completed to measure and map:
All noise surveys produce a comprehensive report with the results of the survey, an assessment of your premises and recommendations on reducing and controlling noise exposure. It will also identify any measures needed to meet regulations and recommendations for updating noise policies. Our noise consultants are also available for noise awareness training.
HSE guidance “Controlling Noise at Work L108” stipulates that even if you consider there have been no changes you should review your noise risk assessments every 2 years.