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Are you Compliant with the Health and Safety Rules on Workplace Noise?

01 January 2015

Under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, employers are required to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to noise in the workplace.

All employers are expected to assess the risks by conducting noise surveys if there is any likelihood their workers will be exposed to more than 80 decibels.

Failing to comply with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulations on workplace noise could lead to an investigation as well as possible prosecution and a fine if a breach is found.

Non-compliance can lead to prosecution

Towards the end of last year, a furniture company in West Yorkshire was fined after failing to protect its workforce from excessive noise levels emitted from its production machinery. An investigation by the HSE revealed that no suitable assessment of the noise levels had been made between 2006 and 2013.

Despite the fact that noise levels had become excessive in 2008 when a new machine was added, the company did not introduce hearing protection until 2013. No health surveillance programme had been put in place either – another requirement of the Regulations – until 2013 when 40 workers were sent for hearing tests.

A fine of £15,000 plus just under £4,500 in costs was issued. HSE inspector David Welsh said, “It is very important for employers to do what is required to prevent employees from being exposed to potentially harmful noise levels.  If such exposure cannot be prevented, then they must ensure that workers are wearing the right kind of personal hearing protection and receive regular health checks.”

Noise surveys

A noise survey will help ascertain whether noise levels in your workplace require control measures to be put in place, such as reducing exposure, providing suitable hearing protection, insulating noisy machines and switching to low noise tooling.

Second guessing the right thing to do is risky. For example with hearing protection, it is important to choose the appropriate type. The HSE is very particular about workers not being over-protected as it can lead to reduced awareness of surrounding hazards.

If you use noisy power, vibration or impact tools in your workplace, operate machinery that is in use for more than half an hour a day, or work within the construction, engineering, manufacturing or road repair industries then it is likely you will require a noise survey.

Can you afford to ignore the risks?

Considering the potential repercussions – health and cost wise – and with noise surveys starting from under £1,000 for sites with up to 75 employees, the question has to be asked, can you afford not to arrange one?

You can find out more about Alistair Bromhead Ltd noise surveys, how they work and the costs involved by following this link.

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