NOISE AT WORK
Exposure to loud noise at work can damage people’s hearing and lead to safety risks. There are also significant legal implications for employers where noise at work issues are not addressed, and claims may arise in the future.
Miller Goodall is able to carry out noise at work assessments by measuring the levels of noise throughout the workplace, calculating daily exposure levels for affected workers and providing advice on noise control measures where necessary.
What guidance and legislation is available for addressing noise at work?
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (CNWR) replaced the Noise at Work Regulations 1989 and is designed to protect employees against risks to health and safety from exposure to noise within the workplace. It requires employers to assess the risks to employees and take action where a risk has been identified.
The CNWR sets down several exposure limits in relation to workplace noise, as detailed below:
|DESCRIPTION||DAILY NOISE EXPOSURE LEVEL (LEP,d)||PEAK LEVEL (LCpeak)|
|Lower Exposure Limit||80 dB (A)||135 dB (C)|
|Upper Exposure Limit||85 dB (A)||137 dB (C)|
|Exposure Limit Values||87 dB (A)||140 dB (C)|
The CNWR also applies to workers, employers and freelancers in the music and entertainment sectors. This covers workplaces where live music is played or recorded music is played in a bar, public house or nightclub.
What are employers required to do?
The CNWR requires employers to either eliminate the risk of exposure to noise for their employees or, where it is not reasonably practicable to do so, to reduce the risk to as low a level as possible. This has to be achieved by implementing a programme of organisational and technical noise control measures that are not limited to just the use of personal hearing protectors.
Where an employee is likely to exceed the lower exposure limit, the CNWR requires the employer to assess the risk to workers’ health and provide them with information, instruction and training. Personal hearing protection must be provided to any employees exposed to noise at levels between the lower and upper exposure action values, although the regulations do not make their use compulsory.
Where workers exceed the upper exposure action value, the CNWR requires employersto provide hearing protection and to ensure their employees use them. The employer also needs to consult with the employees and provide information about the protectors and how to use them correctly.
Where employees are regularly exposed to noise levels above the upper exposure action value, health surveillance should be provided by the employer. Where exposure is between the lower and upper exposure action value, or where employees are only occasionally exposed to levels above the upper exposure action value, health surveillance should be provided to any employees who are particularly sensitive to noise, who have a history of exposure to high levels of noise, or who have existing hearing problems.
The employer must also ensure that the noise exposure noise limit values are not exceeded, after taking into account the benefits provided by appropriate hearing protection.
How can Miller Goodall help?
In order to assess the level of risk to employees, we undertake a site visit during a typical working day. During this visit, we will identify workers that may be affected and undertake measurements of peak and average noise levels of the different tasks undertaken by the employees. Information regarding work patterns will be obtained, including tasks that make up the working day and the length of time spent on each task.
Once a site visit has been made, the results are analysed and the daily noise exposure level is calculated for typical work scenarios.
A full report is issued that provides the results in the format required by the noise regulations, including the survey methodology, calculations and results. Advice is provided on the need to implement hearing protection, together with methods of reducing or eliminating the risk.
If required, Miller Goodall can also undertake a detailed analysis and measurement of noise sources in manufacturing or industrial workplaces and provide advice on bespoke noise and vibration control measures, including the use of screens, enclosures or absorptive materials. This would allow a series of control measures to be implemented, in line with the requirements of the CNWR.
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