Some work environments, particularly building sites, can produce dangerous noise levels that should be monitored in order to protect employees, contractors, and visitors to the site.
Excessive noise is a problem in many workplaces, which is why noise levels should always be assessed and addressed as per the Control of Noise at Work Regulations.
But what exactly is a noise assessment? How are noise assessments conducted? And why are noise assessments so important? Keep reading to learn all about noise assessments and why they are necessary for certain workplaces.
What is a Noise Assessment?
A noise assessment is a way of protecting workers and visitors against the risk of excessive noise at work, in accordance with The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.
Noise risk assessments ensure that noise levels in the workplace don’t exceed the recommended levels. They measure more than just noise - noise risk assessments also identify where the noise is coming from and how it could affect employees and visitors to the workplace.
As with regular risk assessments, the results of noise risk assessments are evaluated in order to develop measures and actions that can prevent and reduce noise exposure, in both the short term and the long term.
Why are Noise Assessments So Important?
There are over two million people in Britain who have experienced hazardous levels of noise exposure at work. You may be surprised to hear that it’s one of the biggest risks in the workplace and one of the most common injuries.
Exposure to excessive noise for just a small amount of time can cause hearing damage - and often irreparable noise-induced hearing loss. This is why noise assessments are so important - and why noise assessments and workplace noise monitoring are a legal requirement if employees are expected to be exposed to excessive noise levels at work.
The Control of Noise At Work Regulations 2005 requires employers to conduct a risk assessment to identify any excessive noise and to outline how it can affect employees. Any noise levels over 87 decibels are considered dangerous and can affect hearing and cause ear problems such as tinnitus.
Preventative measures should always be taken in the instances of excessive noise and noise risk assessments can help to understand what noise control measures can be taken. PPE should be worn, and regular hearing tests should be carried out for workers that have been exposed to sound levels that exceed 85 decibels.
Noise assessments are important as they can help to identify which workers may be at risk of hearing loss and damage to health due to noise. They can also help you to identify the sources of loud noise, and what processes are contributing to the noise levels.
If you already have an occupational noise monitoring system in place, noise risk assessments can help you to evaluate how effective your existing measures are and make adjustments where necessary. It's always helpful to have quality health and safety advice - click here for more information.
How are Noise Assessments Conducted?
First of all, noise assessments should be conducted by a competent person. A competent person is somebody who has an understanding of health and safety through both training and experience - and in the case of noise assessments, somebody who has experience with noise measuring instruments.
A competent person in terms of noise assessments should understand how to effectively take measures to prevent noise, and interpret and evaluate the results of noise risk assessments. They should also have a firm understanding of the relevant legislation - particularly The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.
A noise assessment report should include information on how the assessment was conducted, and what factors have been taken into account. The results of noise assessments should be used to assign the right control measures to prevent excessive noise exposure and to ensure noise levels remain within the recommended levels.
Training is a great way of gaining an understanding of noise awareness. At Beaconrisk, we offer a quality Noise Awareness Course that can help you to protect yourself and your employees from excessive noise at work. Understanding how noise levels can affect health and hearing is key to preventing the risk.
Our course outlines the main legislation that applies to noise at work, including noise risk assessments and what steps can be taken to prevent the risk of excessive noise.