Noise Survey Assessment is funny old things…

We turn up to a client site to carry out a noise survey assessment. it goes something like this.

Us – “Hi, we’re here to do the noise survey”
Customer – “What”?

And yes, it still cracks me up :)

How to find out if you have a problem with noise.

The HSE offers some great free advice on their website. Very useful for a bit of advice on if you need to do anything, before getting expensive noise monitoring kit and full surveys. The link is here.

Do you have a noise problem at work?

This will depend on how loud the noise is and how long people are exposed to it. As a simple guide you will probably need to do something about the noise if any of the following apply:

  • Is the noise intrusive – like a busy street, a vacuum cleaner or a crowded restaurant – for most of the working day?
  • Do your employees have to raise their voices to carry out a normal conversation when about 2 m apart?
  • Do your employees use noisy powered tools or machinery for more than 1/2 half an hour each day?
  • Do you work in a noisy industry such as Manufacturing, Machining, Engineering, Fabrication, Waste or foundries?
  • Are there noises due to impacts (such as hammering, drop forging, pneumatic impact tools etc)?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions, you will need to assess the risks to decide whether any further action is needed, and plan how you will do it.

The bit you can do yourself

It is essential that you can show that your estimate of employees’ exposure is representative of the work that they do, and the noise-exposed to including duration of exposure.

Your estimate must be based on reliable information, e.g. measurements in your own workplace, information from other workplaces similar to yours, or data from suppliers of machinery.

 You can do this by estimating the noise levels and exposure times including the above data or some mobile phone apps can give a decent indication (NOTE – these are not likely to hold up to a full challenge of noise assessment, just a decent guide).

The bit you will need help with

If the above tells you that there is a bigger problem, if your insurance or the HSE ask you to assess the full noise exposure, or if being guided by someone such as a safety expert or occupational health provider, you will need a competent Noise survey.

You need to make sure that your assessment:

  • has been drawn up by someone who is competent; and
  • is based on advice and information from people who are competent to provide it
    • this includes appropriately qualified persons
    • with calibrated equipment where needed

You, or people within your company, maybe competent in some or all areas. You may, however, choose or need to go to external consultants

That’s where we come in. We can help you understand what’s needed and what you can do for yourself or pass it over to us and we can take care of the full survey.

Regardless of who you use for the Noise Assessment Survey, always make sure there will be time followed up with the surveyor to discuss the proposed control measures.

Do not accept a report sent to you afterwards without detailed feedback, ideally in person. you want to know exactly what needs to happen and ideas of how it can be done.

Get the surveyor to discuss through the noise exposures and findings with your staff on the day.

Draft a toolbox talk for the employees to read and sign and ask the surveyor to deliver it. Once the kit is all set up the surveyor will have time to do this, and the better ones will be confident to talk to the staff about Noise hazards, PPE, Occupational Health and Spotting symptoms.

Otherwise, all you will have is just have another report to read through.