Many employees will be exposed to excessive noise during their employment especially in relation to construction jobs and work on roads and highways. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 has been implemented to ensure that the risk of exposure to noise at work is minimised.
Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005
Personal Noise Exposure
Noise has been defined as the act as any audible sound with the more important definition being that of personal noise exposure.
Duty placed on the Employer
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 impose a duty on every employer in respect of his employees to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that those employees are not exposed to noise which is excessive.
How much noise is considered acceptable?
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 specify action values and exposure limit values for daily personal and weekly personal noise exposure and peak sound level.
They are split into lower and upper exposure action values with a maximum exposure limit being provided and are as follows:
The lower exposure action values
a daily or weekly personal noise exposure of 80 dB (A-weighted); and
a peak sound pressure of 135 dB (C-weighted)
The upper exposure action values
a daily or weekly personal noise exposure of 85 dB (A-weighted); and
a peak sound pressure of 137 dB (C-weighted)
The exposure limit values
a daily or weekly personal noise exposure of 87 dB (A-weighted); and
a peak sound pressure of 140 dB (C-weighted)
Daily Personal Noise exposure is measured according to the total noise received by an employee over the entire working day. Daily noise exposures depend on all noise levels experienced over the course of the day and look specifically at time spent in the noise and time spent away from the noise. Specifically a high level noise for a short time may give the same noise exposure as a low level noise for a longer time.
A working day is taken to mean an 8 hour working day so the daily noise exposure will be the average over the 8 hours. Similarly to calculate weekly exposure it will be done according to the 40 hour week.
Peak sound pressure levels is the highest level of noise occurring at any time during the working day.
Section 6 of the Control of Noise at Work Regulations specifically states that the risk from exposure of noise to his employees is either eliminated at source or where it is not reasonably practicable to do so reduced to as low a level as is reasonably practicable to do so.
If the exposure is likely to be exceeded it shall be the duty of the employer to carry out a full risk assessment to assess whether any employees are to be exposed to this noise and in what circumstances. An employer when undertaking a risk assessment must take into consideration the following factors:
The level, type and duration of exposure
The effects of exposure – particular attention must be taken towards employees where health risks may be concerned
The effects of the noise on any of the audible warning signals or any other sounds that have to be audible on ground of safety or to reduce the risk at work
Information provided by the manufacturer of work equipment
Whether there is any other available equipment which may reduce the emission of noise
If the workers are exposed to the noise outside of their normal hours – for example when taking lunch breaks or other breaks in rest facilities
Any information that is deemed appropriate following health surveillance
The availability of personal hearing protectors
For more information on:
- Hearing Equipment
- Information and Training
- What happens if the lawful noise levels are exceeded?
- I am self employed – do the Regulations apply to me?