Do You Require A Noise Assessment?
So why would a noise survey no longer be valid and when should previous noise assessments be reviewed?
* The process is changed in any way.
* Installation of new machines, and removal of old machines.
* Noise control measures have become reasonably practicable.
* You change the shifts an operator works (i.e. you go from 8hrs to 12hrs).
* Noise controls have been installed (and you want to see if things have improved).
* Your Audiometry Testing has shown a significant deterioration in employee’s hearing levels.
* You become aware of new ways of working or controlling noises (e.g. as written in trade journals).
In answer to the question, there is no set frequency for noise assessments, however a regular noise survey helps determine if there is any deterioration in machinery that may be causing increases in noise level. Therefore we recommend that noise levels are carried out and reviewed at least every two years.
What Actions Do I Need To Take
When employees are liable to be exposed to noise at or above a lower exposure action value, employers must make a ‘suitable and sufficient assessment’ of the risk from noise to the health and safety of those employees.
An assessment will be suitable and sufficient if it:
- a) has been drawn up by someone who is competent to carry out the task
- b) is based on advice and information from competent sources
- c) identifies where there may be a risk from noise and who is likely to be affected
- d) contains a reliable estimate of your employees noise exposures and a comparison of exposure with the exposure action values and limit values
- e) identifies the measures necessary to eliminate risks and exposures or reduce them to as low a level as is reasonably practicable
- f) identifies those employees who need to be provided with health surveillance and whether any employees are at particular risk
The employer should also prepare an action plan, together with a realistic time scale for achieving these controls.
Finally, the risk assessment shall be reviewed when there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid. For example, there may have been a significant change in the work to which the assessment relates, new noisy machinery installed, altered work patterns and so on.
In general terms the responsibilities/controls required at the various exposure action values and limit values are as follows:
A) If employees are exposed to noise levels at or above the lower exposure action value (not taking account of hearing protection):
- suitable hearing protectors must be made available
- information and training must be provided
- health surveillance should be provided where there is a risk to health
B) If employees are exposed to noise levels at or above the Upper Exposure Action Value (not taking account of hearing protection):
- a programme of technical and/or organisational measures intended to reduce exposure to noise must be established and implemented (these measures cannot include hearing protection)
- marking, delimiting and restriction of access to areas is required; i.e. designation of Hearing Protection Zones
- the provision and use of hearing protectors is mandatory
- health surveillance must be provided
- information and training must be provided
C) Employers must not permit an employee to be exposed above the exposure limit values (NB taking into account hearing protection). If these values are exceeded:
- immediate action to reduce exposure is required
- the reasons for over exposure must be addressed by reviewing the programme of control measures; i.e. technical and organisational controls
- the adequacy of any hearing protection supplied and the systems in place to ensure that noise-control measures and hearing protection are fully and properly used and maintained.
Noise Regulations act as a safety net due to noise being a common issue in most industrial environments we carry out work in, whether it be the hum of a production line in a printing works or the short, sharp noise of a hammer hitting a metal unit when fabricating a container in a welding workshop.
ECL has over 20 years experience as a company in providing information, noise regulations guidance and occupational noise monitoring services to enable compliance with the Control of Noise At Work Regulations 2005.
ECL are still one of the only occupational hygiene consultancies in the UK to be UKAS accredited for the monitoring of both Dust and Noise. Demonstrating that Envirocare complies with Health & Safety best practice and is competent to deliver a consistently dependable, unbiased and accurate service. Holding the internationally recognised UKAS accreditation proves that the holders services meet the appropriate standard for testing employee exposure to workplace noise in the UK.
ECL also has many years of experience in providing Audiometric Services to enable compliance with The Noise at Work Regulations 2005.
ECL issue fully-comprehensive reports of all measurements taken, interpreted against current legislation. Where necessary, advice and recommendations are given, including:
- Advising you on the requirements of the Control of Noise at Work Regulations;
- Immediate actions to reduce noise exposure
- Immediate actions to control noise exposure
- Selection of suitable hearing protection, based on octave band frequency analysis
- Noise zoning by mapping of the noise measurements, should these levels be consistent
ECL can undertake all of your Workplace Noise Monitoring requirements. These range from measurements of sound pressure levels during single activities to personal noise dose measurements for whole days or weeks for individual workers. We also advise you on the actions necessary to comply with the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. As well as this, we can tell you what hearing protection is most suitable for each task.
What are Workplace Noise Action Values?
Current noise regulations require employers to take specific action at certain workplace noise action values. These relate to the levels of noise exposure to employees averaged over a working day or week and the maximum noise (peak sound pressure) employees are exposed to in a working day. These limits are:
Current Workplace Noise Action Values
Lower Exposure Action Values:
- daily LEP,d or weekly LEP,w exposure of 80 dB;
- peak sound pressure (LCPeak) of 135 dB;
Upper Exposure Action Values:
- daily LEP,d or weekly LEP,w exposure of 85 dB;
- peak sound pressure (LCPeak) of 137 dB.
Exposure Limit Values:
- peak sound pressure (LCPeak) of 140 dB.