Why effective noise controls are now even more important

By Brihony Tulloch on April 10th, 2018
  1. Risk Management
  2. Hazard Identification

 

Many employers are aware that hearing loss and tinnitus are common conditions associated with excessive noise exposure. But a recent US study by the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health (NIOSH) also found hypertension and elevated cholesterol are more prevalent among noise-exposed workers – by an increase of 24-28%.

In addition to the health risks, noisy workplaces contribute to other safety risks, including the inability of workers to hear safety alarms, warning signals from machines or alerts from co-workers.

According to health and safety legislation, workers in all jurisdictions should not be exposed to more than 85dB averaged over 8 hours. Typically, a food blender operates at 88dB.

Hence, it is critical to have effective noise control measures in place.

Use the following checklist to make sure you’re complying with your health and safety duties to your workers.

  • Is noise safety managed as a serious health and safety issue in your business?
  • Is your work culture resistant to dealing with noise exposure or does the workplace implement any suggestions made to improve hearing safety?
  • Do you over-rely on personal protective equipment (PPE) as your risk control for noise hazards, i.e. have you tried to eliminate the source of the noise before supplying earplugs as the control measure?
  • Have you trained your workers in the proper use of the required PPE, e.g. frequency of use and maintenance?
  • Are your workers using their PPE as instructed?
  • Do your managers have sufficient knowledge of the effects of loud noise and hearing loss on quality of life or do they rate the impact as very low?
  • Do you believe that hearing loss is inevitable or do you consider that there are positive steps you can take to prevent it?

As standard practice, employers should provide hearing protection to all employees and visitors in noisy areas and ensure they wear. This involves providing information, instruction and training, and undertaking record-keeping for the PPE.

If you need more information about noise hazard prevention, make sure you read the N2 Noise Safety Management chapter in the Health & Safety Handbook. It has all the answers you need regarding health and safety law. And it’s written in plain English by legal experts from Holding Redlich, so what have you got to lose?

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