We use the Control of Noise at Work Regulations to assess noise in factories and works

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Noise at Work Assessment

Contact: acoustics@arcusconsulting.co.uk

Since the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 came into force, it has been a legal requirement of all employers to undertake a noise at work assessment if any employee is likely to be exposed to excessive levels of noise.

We have answered the most commonly asked questions relating to noise at work assessments.

When is a noise risk assessment needed?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that a Noise at Work Assessment must be undertaken if an employee is likely to be exposed to noise at or above lower exposure action values.  The Health and Safety Executive Guidance advises that if the workplace is noisier than everyday life, it is possible that the lower limit will be exceeded.  The lower limit of 80 dB(A) is roughly equivalent to the noise level of a busy road, crowded restaurant or vacuum cleaner.

What are the upper and lower Action Values?

The limits in the regulations are in the table below.

Daily or weekly personal noise exposure Peak sound pressure
Lower Exposure Action Value 80 dB(A) 135 dB(C)
Upper Exposure Action Values 85 dB(A) 137 dB(C)
Exposure Limit 87 dB(A) 140 dB(C)

Where noise exposure levels vary significantly from day to day, a weekly exposure level can be calculated instead.

Can we just supply our employees with hearing protection rather than carrying out a noise at work assessment?

When calculating an employee’s daily or weekly exposure, the protection provided by hearing defenders or earplugs may not be taken into account.  Hearing protection should only be used either as an interim measure while noise control measures are implemented, or where additional protection is required on top that achieved by noise control measures.

What does a Noise at Work assessment include?

  • A description of the workplace, including the various working areas, activities undertaken and employees included in the assessment;
  • The time and date(s) of the assessment;
  • Identifying the areas where upper or lower limits are exceeded;
  • Calculation of daily personal noise exposures (including peak exposure) of the employees;
  • Details of any measurements taken during the assessment; and
  • If required, a noise map and identification of hearing protection zones.

What can I do to reduce noise exposure?

Where a noise at work assessment has been undertaken, Arcus can provide advice on minimising employees’ exposure to noise.  Specific examples include job rotation, change to quieter machine, workplace design, machine design or noise control (enclosure, acoustic haven).

Arcus have significant experience in the specification and design of noise control in order to reduce noise at source.  Where technical noise control has been implemented but employee noise exposure levels are still above limits, Arcus can provide guidance on the selection of appropriate hearing protection.

How often does a Noise at Work assessment need to be taken?

The Regulations specify that a Noise at Work assessment should be reviewed and updated where a change in the workplace has occurred (i.e. new equipment, changes to working patterns) which may alter the noise exposure of an employee.

Where there have been no changes, a review should be undertaken at least every two years.

What is a noise audit?

A noise audit is a comprehensive noise review of a factory or process facility.  They are more detailed than noise at work assessments, whereby all equipment or processes emitting noise above the action values are identified.  Once identified, noise control measures are proposed and given high, medium and low priority status based on;

  • Equipment or process noise levels;
  • Number of employees affected;
  • Duration of noise; and
  • Cost to mitigate.

What experience does Arcus have?

Arcus has extensive experience carrying out noise at work assessments and noise audits of factory premises.  We have worked with clients in the following sectors:

  • Food and drink (Coca Cola, Cadburys);
  • Power generation (EDF Energy, SSE Renewables);
  • Industrial processing/manufacture (Pilkington Glass, Longcliffe Quarries);
  • Chemicals (Kemira Chemicals); and
  • Waste water treatment works (Long Reach Sewage Treatment Works).

Where can I find more information?

If you require a Noise at Work assessment, or to discuss any other aspect of workplace noise or vibration, please email acoustics@arcusconsulting.co.uk

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