The health of your workers is just as important as the health of your business. As a business owner, you have a duty to prevent harm to your workers’ health. One way that workers can be harmed at work is through exposure to noise, and many businesses would do well to look beyond earmuffs and earplugs for workplace noise control.
Occupational noise comes from a range of sources, all of which can easily exceed safe levels and, in time, result in hearing loss. Occupational noise sources include:
- Manufacturing equipment;
- Power generators;
- Use of motor vehicles or heavy equipment;
- Aircraft noise;
- Tool, or power tool, noise, such as hammering or jack-hammering, sawing, and drilling;
- Emergency vehicle sirens.
Noise levels can be measured using a sound level meter, which detects the pressure of sound waves as they move through the air. WorkSafe states acceptable noise levels as being:
- Equivalent to, or under, 85 decibels averaged over 8 hours;
- or, a peak noise level equal to, or less than, 140 decibels;
- Both applying whether you’re wearing hearing protection, or not.
Reducing exposure to excessive noise in the workplace can be accomplished in many different ways:
- Change or modify equipment;
- Locate the equipment in a more isolated area, or soundproof the room;
- Make sure that people spend time working in quiet areas, too;
- Try to run noisy equipment at times when fewer people will be exposed, such as early or late in the day;
- Use personal hearing protection, such as ear plugs, or ear muffs.
To ensure your workers aren’t being, or haven’t already been, harmed by noise levels at your work, provide regular health monitoring checks. The purpose of this is to:
- Make sure that the health of workers is not being harmed from exposure to hazardous noise(s) while carrying out work;
- Make sure that control measures are working effectively;
- Detect early signs of noise-induced hearing loss;
- Help treat and protect workers who have been exposed to hazardous noise levels.
The good news is, the Working Wise team provide a health monitoring service! Contact us today so we can work with you to design a programme that helps you manage your occupational safety risks. You can reach the team by phoning 04 499 0710, or completing our online contact form.
In the meantime, you can gather additional information on workplace noise from WorkSafe’s website.