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NOISE MONITORING SAFE AND SOUND


Tim Turney, Technical Product Manager at Casella describes how noise monitoring can protect your workforce against noise induced hearing loss.


In Great Britain, it is estimated that more than 2 million people are exposed to unacceptable levels of noise at work. Exposure to high noise levels can cause permanent, irreversible hearing damage, however, there are a number of practical ways of preventing and protecting workers against the risks at work.


Prolonged exposure to dangerous levels of noise in the workplace is concerning and could lead to serious health issues at the same time as preventing workers from operating at their best. Noise monitoring provides concrete data, highlighting key paths for change. Statistics could significantly improve if people within organisations had the knowledge and understanding of noise measurements and terminology.


EMPLOYER RESPONSIBILITY The Control of Noise at Work Regulations officially came into force in Great Britain in 2006, meaning employers have a duty to ensure exposure is controlled and workers’ hearing is protected in the workplace. The noise level at which employers must provide hearing protection and hearing protection zones at 85 decibels and the level in which employers must assess the risk to workers’ health and provide extra information and training is 80 decibels – the average noise level of a factory.


To ensure employers adhere to these regulations, monitoring provides accurate insights into noise levels and identifying where the problem areas are. There are many devices on the market but it can be difficult to identify what type of product is most suitable for your working environment and where training is required.


GET MONITORING Measurements must be taken based on a workers’ average exposure over a working day, in order to record an accurate representation of the levels of noise workers are exposed to. Hearing damage can also occur because of high levels of impulsive noise. Damage caused from this type of exposure can result in a ‘ringing’ sound in the ears – also known as tinnitus. If there is a risk of this type of exposure in the workplace, then peak noise levels should also be monitored and recorded.


Measuring noise exposure doesn’t have to take a lot of time, or cost the business a lot of money through the use of external resources. A successful noise monitoring programme can be carried out on-site by trained health and safety managers, using either a sound level meter or a noise dosimeter.


HOW TO MONITOR: SOUND LEVEL METERS A sound level meter is a hand-held device, ideal for short term measurements. When using a sound level meter, measurements must be started at the beginning of a task, representing workers’ actual exposure. This process


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“EXPOSURE TO DANGEROUS LEVELS OF NOISE COULD LEAD TO SERIOUS HEALTH ISSUES AT THE SAME TIME AS PREVENTING WORKERS FROM OPERATING AT THEIR BEST.”


should be repeated for both ears, for all duties employees perform, making it possible to calculate an accurate record of daily exposure.


If individual working patterns are complex, or if the work carried out means it is not practical or safe to conduct noise monitoring with a sound level meter, dosimeters can be used. These are small, shoulder worn devices that will collect individual exposure data.


HOW TO MONITOR: DOSIMETERS Dosimeters are ideal for personal exposure monitoring and can be worn by employees for their entire working shift. Data is instantly recorded and can be downloaded to detail the time history of the noise exposure, highlighting where high exposures occur throughout the day. Workers can also log the times of jobs performed, allowing the employer to instantly see the operations that require more effective noise controls.


Modern noise dosimeters can also record the actual audio, allowing the sound to be played back to determine the basis of the noise exposure, ie if it was from a particular machine or if it was spurious occurrence.


www.casellasolutions.com www.tomorrowshs.com


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