Factory noise control: how to safeguard employees’ hearing and comply with the Law
We are exposed to noise in almost every moment of our waking day and night!. Noise is around us when we are out and about, travelling to and from places, carrying out daily tasks or even whilst at work. More often than not, there is not much we can do to control it.
However, in a work environment such as a factory, this is different. If you are an employer, it is important that you are aware of the harm excessive and or prolonged exposure to loud noise can cause to your employees and, potentially, to your business. This article will take you through the main steps that should be implemented to control noise in order to safeguard your employees’ hearing and to comply with the Law.
What constitutes loud noise at work?
It does not matter which industry you belong to, if you are an employer and operate a noisy environment such as a factory, you need to be are aware of the implications of loud noise on your employees and your business. Often, it can be difficult to classify if you are a business that needs to control noise levels. You may think you do not have a noise problem but can you prove it? Here are a few simple questions for you to answer in order to establish whether noise levels need to be controlled in your factory.
- Do your employees have to raise their voice or shout in order to have a conversation with each other?
- Do you work in an environment where power tools are used?
- Are you in an environment where there is machinery being operated constantly?
- Do you work in a factory environment?
If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions then it suggests that you may need to investigate, monitor and control the noise levels within your workplace.
What are the health implications of exposure to loud noise?
From a health and safety point, there can be many implications from exposure to loud noise. If you are operating within a factory or warehouse environment, loud noise can make it much more difficult to hear information or warnings given in relation to the safe use of equipment. Also, if there was to be an accident, it could make hearing the person who has been injured much more difficult. Therefore, it is vitally important that loud noise is closely monitored, controlled and reduced whenever possible.
Exposure to loud noise can have serious health implications if safe levels are exceeded. Tinnitus, which is a symptom generated within a person’s own auditory pathways, and Industrial Deafness are common amongst employees who have been exposed to loud noises over a period of time. Tinnitus is an extremely painful and often irritating health implication. It causes the person to hear noises from within their own body rather than from the outside world. Many sufferers describe a constant ringing, hissing or buzzing within their ear that cannot be stopped. The result of this can be a lack of sleep often leading to insomnia, a lack of concentration and, in some cases, depression. Industrial Deafness is deafness induced due to an exposure of loud noise in industrial environments. It can happen gradually over a period of time or can be sudden. Academic research states that noise exposure is the second most common cause of hearing loss after age-related hearing loss. However, there are many simple steps that can be taken in order to prevent it in the first place.
Noise at work Legislation
Health and Safety Executive provide a regulatory framework for workplace health and safety in Great Britain. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations (2005) was rolled out across most industry sectors in 2006. It requires employers to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to noise at work. Put simply, the legislation states that:
- Employers legally must assess the risk that their workforce are exposed to if noise levels reach 80 decibels.
- Employers legally must provide employees with hearing protection if noise levels reach 85 decibels
- The legal limit value of noise exposure which workers must not be exposed to is 87 decibels
The infographic on the left highlights this information and is a great guidance tool to use in order to ensure that your workplace follows the legislation.
What can you do to combat loud noise at work?
There are many different products and services that can be used in order to ensure that the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceed at work. Pulsar Instruments provides many different noise measurement products, suitable for factory noise control.
The Pulsar Nova Range of sound level meters is particularly suited for noise at work measurement. It helps HSE professionals or acoustic consultants estimate the noise exposure of a person at work and any loud bangs to which a person is exposed as required by the Regulations.
Pulsar Instruments offers a comprehensive range of noise level meters, so ensure you select the correct one for your workplace by visiting the website to see a full product listing. Alternatively, contact us to receive professional advice to support your factory noise control programme.
Finally, to ensure that you are fully informed on the essential steps to control noise at work, download our free Employers’ Guide!