An estimated 17,000 people annually in the UK suffer from hearing conditions due to excessive noise at work.
Workplace Noise Assessment or Occupational Noise Assessments is a way to measure the noise levels at the workplace that may harm workers Health and Safety.
In this blog, we have discussed Noise Risk assessment at length, starting from the basic definition, noise risk assessment procedure, and surrounding subjects.
Noise at work is the term given to the noise levels that employees are exposed to at work and is centred around their safety and protection.
According to The Control of Noise at Work Regulations (2005) legislation, it is the duty of employers to reduce noise levels while providing workers with training and equipment to control the risk from noise.
Moreover, under the act of Control of Noise at Work Regulations (2005), employers should conduct regular health surveillance and risk assessment to make sure that everything practical has been done to mitigate the effects of noise exposure.
So, let’s jump into the topic of noise risk assessment.
What Is Noise Risk Assessment?
A noise risk assessment is carried out to ensure the health and safety of workers exposed to noise risks.
Noise Risk Assessment is more than just taking measurements of noise – it includes many other things.
Additionally, Noise Risk Assessment helps identify the sources of noise risk and how it affects the employees.
The results derived from the Noise Risk Assessment are further evaluated and used to develop preventive measures or corrective actions in order to reduce the long-term effects of noise exposure.
What Is The Aim Of A Noise Risk Assessment?
The main purpose of the noise risk assessment is to help a business in deciding the measures to ensure the workers’ health and safety who are exposed to noise.
What Are The Factors That Determines The Requirement Of Noise Risk Assessment –
If an employee is working in a workplace where –
→ It is becoming difficult to communicate due to heavy noise around;
→ Job tasks involve noisy power tools or machinery most of the time;
→ Noises are arising due to impacts, explosive sources such as detonations or guns;
→ The noise instructive for most of the working day;
→ If an employee is working in an industry known to have noisy tasks like construction, manufacture, and foundries.
What Does Noise Risk Assessment Includes –
A Noise Risk Assessment usually includes –
→ Identifying the noise risks and the people around who are likely to be affected;
→ A reliable assessment of employees’ exposures, and compare the exposure with the exposure action values and limit values;
→ Determining what a company or organization should do to comply with the law; for example noise-control measures or hearing protection requirements and;
→ Identifying any employees who need to be protected with health surveillance and whether any are at particular risk.
What Are The Noise Limits According To HSE?
According to the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), The Noise Regulations (2005) define “Exposure Action Values”.
If levels of noise exposure are exceeded, it requires the employer to take mitigating actions.
According to HSE, daily personal noise exposure, or LEP,d indicates a daily noise “dose”.
Daily noise “dose” is a combination of “how loud” and “how long exposed” for the various noises that a person is exposed to on a working day.
Here is the list of exposure action value –
→ Daily or weekly personal noise exposure (LEP,d or LEP,w):
Lower exposure action value: 80 dB
Upper exposure action value: 85 dB
→ Peak sound pressure (LCpeak):
Lower exposure action value: 135 dB
Upper exposure action value: 137 dB
→ Exposure limits are not above:
Daily or weekly personal noise exposure (LEP,d or LEP,w): 87 dB
Peak sound pressure (LCpeak): 140 dB
Noise Risk Assessment Tips For Organisations –
→ Letting noise risk assessors know zones that have the highest noise levels and prioritize it
→ An employee’s exposure to noise may differ during various times of the day, so ensure to get a feel for the changing noise levels throughout the day.
→ Identifying and prioritizing any employees who have early signs of hearing loss; assess their use of hearing protection and provide additional training and information, if required.
→ If it is becoming difficult to communicate with someone standing a meter away, measure sound levels and check them against exposure action values.
How Do High Levels Of Noise Can Harm An Employee’s Health –
The sound in the frequency range of 1 kHz to 4 kHz is the most sensitive to the human ear compared to any lower or higher frequency.
High levels of noise at work can cause hearing loss or damage that is permanent as well as disabling.
Hearing loss can also be gradual through exposure to noise over time.
Moreover, high levels of noise can stop people from being able to understand speech, have a smooth conversation or talking on mobile phones.
People who work with high noise levels may develop tinnitus. In this distressing condition, a person experiences ringing, whistling, buzzing, or humming in the ears that can also lead to disturbed sleep.
The noise assessment procedure is developed according to human ear capacities.
Sound meters are normally fitted with filters in accordance with the measured sound response to the human sense of sound.
Commonly used filters are as follows –
dB(A) filter is widely used, roughly corresponds to an equal-loudness curve for the human ear.
dB(B) filter is between C and A but is seldom used.
dB(C) filter is practically linear over several octaves and is suitable for subjective measurements at very high sound pressure levels.
What Are The Equipment For Noise Risk Assessment?
Here are some of the most common equipment for measuring noise risk –
→ Calibrated noise meter, microphone and windscreen;
→ Tape measure;
→ Personal hearing protection;
→ A computer for recording results;
→ Competent professional.
How Often Should An Organization Get A Noise Risk Assessment?
Though the Government has not set the frequency of noise risk assessment, it is advisable to get a regular noise survey.
Noise risk assessment supports in determining the deterioration in machinery that may cause increases in noise level.
If the workplace has had major changes in recent times like altering the purpose of the work carried out or a renovation; it is advisable to get a noise risk assessment.
Additionally, getting a noise risk assessment every two years is recommended, even if there are no major workplace changes.
Noise Risk Assessment Competence –
As an organization, ensure that your risk assessment –
→ It is drawn up by someone who is competent enough to carry out the assessment;
→ Is based on advice and information from professionals who are competent enough to provide it.
You can contact Orbis Environmental and Safety consultant for efficient noise risk assessment by sending us an email at [email protected] or by calling 07402093183