Noise at Work – Health and Safety Protection

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.

This is defined as meaning the level of daily personal noise exposure of an employee taking account of the level of noise and the duration of exposure and covering all noise.

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.

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For more information on:

  • Elimination
  • Risk Assessments
  • Hearing Equipment
  • Information and Training
  • What happens if the lawful noise levels are exceeded?
  • I am self employed – do the Regulations apply to me?