Noise pollution is a big issue in the modern working world, particularly for those exposed to industrial noise pollution on an everyday basis. It can cause long-term and irreversible damage to workers who are not properly protected or equipped to deal with the noise. As such, it is important for employers to act in the best interest of these workers and reduce noise pollution in the workplace.
Here is why control of noise pollution in the workplace is important and how you can work to reduce it.
Enforced in 2005, the Noise Regulations came into effect in all industries and sectors in the UK (barring the entertainment and music sectors until 2008). The aim of the regulations is to simply reduce the likelihood of hearing loss as a result of excessive noise in their workplace – or other serious conditions such as tinnitus. Note: these regulations do not apply to members of the public in a non-work environment.
The regulations include the stipulation that workers in an environment that exposes them to 85 decibels (daily) must be given sufficient hearing protection. Training and information must also be provided at 80 decibels. Assessment of the health and well-being of workers is also required at this level.
All noise exposure is limited to 87 decibels. At this point, workers may not be exposed to such noise even with ear protection.
In light of these regulations, reducing noise pollution in the workplace is vital for both your workers and your business. Ways to achieve this include:
Modifying the paths which noise travels to those exposed can be one of the most effective ways to reduce noise pollution in the workplace. To do this you can erect acoustic enclosures – which help to reduce noise levels from industrial activity – or erect barriers to block the direct path of noise.
Creating as much distance as possible between your workers and the source of the noise is also another way to reduce the effect of the pollution.
Ask yourself: could you do the work in a quieter way? Can you replace particularly noisy equipment with something more sound efficient? If the answer to these questions is yes then you should consider making these changes.
Overall, introducing a low-noise-emission purchasing policy in your company is good practice.
Designing your workplace to lower noise emission is one of the most time-consuming, but effective, ways to deal with the issue. This includes using noise-absorbent materials in the walls (foam), or keep the workflow of your factory efficient enough to keep workers and machinery as far apart as possible.
One way to reduce noise is through your engineering practices themselves. Avoid all metal on metal, vibrating machinery and you can also find silencers for many exhausts or noise producers.
Overall, the proper and regular maintenance of equipment is vital to help reduce deterioration that creates even more noise pollution in the industrial workplace. If noise levels increase, at any point, be sure to check for worn down or faulty parts.
It is a legal requirement to protect the wellbeing of your workers hearing – so work to reduce it as much as possible. Carry out a noise impact assessment if you are unsure where your noise issues are most persistent or how to deal with them.