Noise at work can cause permanent and disabling hearing damage.
This can be hearing loss that is gradual because of exposure to noise over time, but also damage caused by sudden, extremely loud noises.
The damage is disabling as it can stop people being able to understand speech, keep up with conversations or use the telephone.
If you don’t get hearing loss, you could develop tinnitus (a ringing, whistling, buzzing or humming in the ears), a distressing condition which can lead to disturbed sleep and depression.
Your industry is one
known to have noisy tasks, such as construction, demolition, road repair, woodworking, plastics processing, engineering, textile manufacture, general fabrication, forging or stamping, paper or board making, canning or bottling, foundries, waste and recycling.
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (the ‘Noise Regulations’) require you to eliminate or reduce risks to health and safety from noise at work.
Depending on the level of risk, you should:
The Regulations apply where work activities expose people at work (your employees or other workers affected by your work activities) to risks to their health and safety from noise.
The Regulations do not apply where people who are not at work are exposed to risks to their health and safety from noise related to work activities; however, the general duties of section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 may apply in such cases.
If any of the statements in the previous section apply, it is likely you will need to take some further action. You may need to carry out a risk assessment to decide what action is needed, and develop a plan.
A risk assessment means more than just taking measurements of noise, measurements may not even be necessary. Your risk assessment should:
Identify where there may be a risk from noise and who is likely to be affected, include:
The risks to health; and the risks to safety;
There are several ways of reducing noise and noise exposure. It is within the capabilities of nearly all businesses to decide on practical, cost-effective actions to control noise risks, if necessary by looking at the advice available.
There are legal limits on the levels of noise to which workers may be exposed.
To comply with the exposure limits you must ensure that your workers’ noise exposure, is reduced by an appropriate factor if they are using personal hearing protection, not above:
Complying with exposure limits is only one aspect of your legal duties under the Noise Regulations. It is separate from your duty to reduce risks from noise to as low as is reasonably practicable.
Information extracted from the HSE and HSE NI websites. https://www.hseni.gov.uk/ They have a further range of in depth information about noise control.