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10 Tips for Noise at Work Compliance

20 March 2015

1. Make sure there’s someone within your organisation whose role may include dealing with noise at work. For most organisations this will be a health & safety officer/manager, shop floor manager, general manager or someone in a technical support role.

2. Don’t forget the HSE has deemed that responsibility for compliance with the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 must rest with a competent person within EVERY organisation. This means that external noise assessors and consultants do not bear the main responsibility. Some consultants do an excellent job of providing noise management services while others fail to provide good enough advice.

The following points apply directly to the person who is given, or has assumed responsibility for managing noise at work:

3. Adopt the perspective that proper management of noise at work involves investigation AND action to reduce the risks as far as reasonably practicable. You’ll need to comply with the ‘CONTROL of Noise at Work Regulations 2005’ – there’s no such legislation as the ‘MEASUREMENT AND KEEPING A RECORD of Noise at Work Regulations 2005’. This may be a blunt statement but it’s important to bear in mind.

4. Gain a working knowledge of the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.

5. Seek to understand the physical risks to employees of excessive noise exposure, so that you have a solid foundation on which to base any recommendations for change.

6. Be sure to have an adequate understanding of how sound behaves, which can be helpful for making recommendations as well.

7. Make sure you have the right tools for the job. There are many different sound level meters on the market. To be suitable for measuring occupational noise, an instrument must meet with particular criteria. The key to knowing whether you have, or may be about to buy a suitable sound level meter is to know what the technical terms and abbreviations relating to sound measurement actually mean. Moreover, the way you use a sound level meter can have a big effect on the results, so you should follow correct measuring techniques (many consultants make significant errors here). Your measurements should enable you to calculate the average daily noise dose of each of your staff so they need to be representative. If not, your recommendations may be unsuitable or unnecessary. “Garbage in, garbage out” as they say.

8. Seek to reduce the reliance on PPE wherever possible and when necessary choose PPE based on your measurement results so as not to under or over protect. Remember that a blanket PPE policy alone is unlikely to be adequate.

9. Maintain an ongoing report and re-evaluate it when necessary.

10. Make sure that if you were asked, by an HSE inspector for example, you could confidently explain how you survey and manage noise in your workplace.

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