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The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 place a duty on employers within Great Britain to reduce the risk to their employee’s health by controlling the noise they are exposed to whilst at work. The regulations were established under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and implement European Council directive 2003/10/EC. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 replaced the ‘Noise at work regulations 1989’. The regulations came into force for most industries on 6 April 2006 with the music and entertainment sectors coming into line two years later on 21 April 2008.
The regulations introduced a number of exposure limits in relation to noise in the workplace. They define the average A weighted sound pressure levels and the peak C weighted sound pressure levels that an employee can be exposed to during an average day or week.
If an employee exposure is above the Lower Exposure Action Value (LEAV) of 80 dB(A) the employer would be required to assess the risk to workers health and provide employees with hearing protections and information and training.
If an employee exposure is above the Upper Exposure Action Value (UEAV) of 85 dB(A) the employer would be required to assess the risk to workers health and provide employees with hearing protection and information and training. They must also ensure that hearing protection is worn and identify high noise zones, and actively control the noise to reduce noise levels. The provision of hearing protection alone is not an acceptable solution and noise must be controlled and designed out whenever practical.
If an employee exposure is above the Exposure Limit Value (ELV) of 87 dB(A) the employer must prevent any further exposure to noise. represented the limit at which employees should not be exposed. At this level the employer must actively control the noise to reduce noise levels by engineering and design, and the use of low noise purchasing policies for selecting equipment and tools. The provision of hearing protection alone is not an acceptable solution and noise must be controlled and designed out whenever practical using Best Available Techniques (BAT).
Table of Noise Exposure Action Values and Exposure Limit
|Average exposure level, dB(A)||Peak sound pressure, dB(C)|
|Lower Exposure Action Value||80||135|
|Upper Exposure Action Value||85||137|
|Exposure Limit Action Value||87||140|
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 is one of a number of Health and Safety legislations that require the ‘suitable and sufficient’ assessment of risks to employees as a result of work activities. By law the employer has to assess the ‘noise problem’ at work and is required to perform a risk assessment a implement a noise management plan to deal with the noise problem. The employer is responsible for the following:
Everyone in a heavy engineering or processing industry are exposed to noise and could suffer temporary or permanent hearing loss. The control of noise at work regulations require employers to eliminate or reduce noise levels.
Exposure to noise at work can harm a workers’ health. The most well-known effect of noise at work is loss of hearing. However, noise can also exacerbate stress and increase fatigue and the risk of accidents.
Excessive noise levels can have a significant and life changing impact on workers and in some cases can also impact on residents of the neighbouring community. The following are all examples of adverse noise effects:
NIHL is usually caused by prolonged exposure to loud noise. The first symptom is normally the inability to hear high-pitched sounds, followed by further deterioration, including difficulties detecting lower-pitched sounds.
leads to work-related stress.
The work environment can be a source of stress for workers. Occupational noise, even when below a level that requires action to prevent hearing loss, can still be a stressor. Examples of this would be the frequent ringing of a telephone or the persistent hum of an air-conditioning unit.