|Scienco Environmental Services|
|Environmental Noise Surveys (Index)|
Noise at work can cause hearing loss which can be temporary or permanent. People often experience temporary deafness after leaving a noisy place. Although hearing recovers within a few hours, this should not be ignored. It is a sign that if you continue to be exposed to the noise your hearing could be permanently damaged.
Permanent hearing damage can be caused immediately by sudden, extremely loud, explosive noises, eg from guns or cartridge-operated machines. But hearing loss is usually gradual because of prolonged exposure to noise. It may only be when damage caused by noise over the years combines with hearing loss due to ageing that people realise how deaf they have become. This may mean their family complains about the television being too loud, they cannot keep up with conversations in a group, or they have trouble using the telephone. Eventually everything becomes muffled and people find it difficult to catch sounds like ‘t’, ‘d’ and ‘s’, so they confuse similar words.
Hearing loss is not the only problem. People may develop tinnitus (ringing, whistling, buzzing or humming in the ears), a distressing condition which can lead to disturbed sleep.
Please note:" Young people can be damaged as easily as the old."
The monitoring exercise was undertaken to establish the workplace noise exposure of the employees working in the production areas of Essilor and to assess the company’s compliance with ‘The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005’.
The 2005 regulations came into force on the 6th April 2006 and significantly reduce the level of exposure permissible in the ‘Noise at Work Regulations 1989’. The 2005 regulations set out a number of requirements including Exposure Limit Values and Action Values, which are as follows;
The regulations require the employer to:
What are the action levels and limit values?
The Noise Regulations require you to take specific action at certain action values. These relate to:
The values are:
Lower Exposure Action Value:
Upper Exposure Action Values:
Exposure Limit Values;
Given the above action and limit values, the 2005 regulations require the employer to eliminate or control the noise exposure in the workplace. The first principle of these regulations is for the employer to eliminate the risk of employees being exposed to noise at source or, where this is not reasonably practicable, to reduce the noise level as low as possible.
Where any employee is likely to be exposed to noise at or above the upper exposure action value of 85 dB(A), the employer must have in place a management plan which reduces the exposure to as low a level as is reasonably practicable, excluding the provision of personal hearing protectors. The general principles of a management plan are set out in Schedule 1 of the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999.
Not withstanding the first principle to remove or reduce the noise exposure of employees without the use of hearing protectors, an employer must also comply with the following;
Where an employee is likely to be exposed to noise at or above the lower exposure action level of 80 dB(A), the employer shall make personal hearing protectors available upon request to any employee who is exposed.
Where an employer is unable by any other means to reduce the levels of noise to below the upper exposure action value of 85 dB(A), the employer shall provide personal hearing protectors to any employee who is exposed.
If in any area of the workplace an employee is likely to be exposed to noise at or above the upper exposure action value of 85 dB(A) for any reason, the employer shall ensure that:
The employer shall also ensure that, employees entering the designated area are wearing personal hearing protectors. The employer, if a risk assessment indicates that there is a risk to the health of employees from the exposure to noise shall have in place, suitable health surveillance, in respect of hearing. Therefore employees who are regularly exposed to noise levels of 85 dB(A) or higher must be subject to health surveillance, including audiometric testing (see regulation 9). This constitutes a big change from the 1989 regulations. Where exposure is between 80 and 85 dB(A), or where employees are only occasionally exposed above the upper exposure action values, health surveillance will only be required if information comes to light that an individual may be particularly sensitive to noise-induced hearing loss.
The employer must also ensure that his employees are not exposed to noise above an exposure limit value; or if an exposure limit value is exceeded i.e. 87 dB(A) or140 dB(C) taking hearing protection into account, it must:
(i) reduce exposure to noise to below the exposure limit
Noise Risk Assessments
The aim of the risk assessment is to help you decide what you need to do to ensure the health and safety of your employees who are exposed to noise. It is more than just taking measurements of noise – sometimes measurements may not even be necessary. A risk assessment should:
For workplace noise follow the link. (more)..