Control of Noise and Vibration at Work Regs (2005)


The problem

Work related deafness, tinnitus and other ear conditions currently affect around 100,000 working people in the UK. Add to this the number of people now retired who will have contracted industrial hearing loss during their working lives.

Noise induced deafness cannot be cured. It is a condition which seriously affects peoples’ quality of life, making normal social conversation difficult or impossible, affecting use of telephone, radio, television, cinema etc. Add to that the misery of continuous loud noises in the ear (tinnitus) preventing sleep, it is no wonder that many sufferers eventually commit suicide.

Employers are under a legal duty to prevent or control the exposure of their employees to noise. In order to do this, noise exposure must be measured. Action levels are set by the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 based on the exposure of employees over their working day. Noise induced hearing loss is cumulative- the more exposure the greater the loss.

Ask yourself these questions:-

– Has a noise assessment ever been made of my workplace?

– If yes, when was it done? Has anything changed since then?

– If no, is it necessary to raise my voice to talk to other people in the workplace?

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations requires that employers carry out an assessment of employees noise exposure where they are liable to be exposed to noise above 80 dB(A) (L,EP,d). Noise assessments must be carried out by a “competent person” to established protocols, using suitable measuring equipment which is subject to regular re-calibration. Interpretation of noise measurements requires a certain level of expertise and understanding- it is unlikely that many supervisors and managers will hold the necessary skills.

Noise assessments may be subject to scrutiny by HSE, insurers and courts of law. Make sure that your assessment will stand up to it.

Having measured the noise, there is a requirement to reduce it, ideally at source but in practice often relying on the use of ear defenders. The assessment needs to establish that the chosen PPE gives the required degree of protection. Noise reduction measures can often be difficult and expensive.

The solution

Scenic Acoustic and Vibration Engineering Ltd offer a service to carry out workplace noise assessments, produce the necessary records in the form of reports and recommend potential remedial actions based on risk assessment principles.