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Noise at Work

Sound Advice Acoustics Ltd has carried out noise at work internal assessments for everything from complex high volume factories to basic small family run businesses.

Factory machinery

Everyone receives the same high quality professional service and expertise that we have to offer, together with over 50 years of our practical knowledge and experience in every form of internal noise control methods within the workplace.

Procedures are carried out to the Noise at Work Regulations 2005 and the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. Complex calculations are carried out based on the individual activities at each operator position within you factory. Reports are written for ease of understanding whilst delivering precise data and recommendations and meeting the requirements for your Health & Safety policy or inspectorate.

Thumbnail image of a datasheet example

Specific data sheets are included within the report that gives guidance to the internal noise levels at each position. As well as the calculated level, the data sheet also includes the time limits to which operators are permitted to remain at this position without exceeding the stipulated action levels. This also allows employers to consider the possibility of job rotation and provides them with the relevant information in order for them to make a practical and economic decision.

These data sheets include a full frequency spectrum analysis from 63Hz to 8.0 kHz together with the dB(A) which are useful if further remedial acoustic works are required to this specific machine or area.

Employers often display these sheets at the relevant locations around the factory to increase noise awareness amongst operational employees.

Requirements of the 1989 Noise at Work Regulations

The following are requirements of the new HSE Noise at Work Regulations 2005 that came into force on 6th April 2006 and specify three level terms.

These maximum values are categorised as follows:

Lower Exposure Action Values (L.E.A.V) - daily or weekly exposure of 80 dB
- peak sound pressure of 135 dB

Upper Exposure Action Values (U.E.A.V) - daily or weekly exposure of 85 dB
- peak sound pressure of 137 dB

There are also levels of internal noise exposure which must not be exceeded:

Exposure Limit Values (E.L.V) - daily or weekly exposure of 87 dB
- peak sound pressure of 140 dB

These exposure limit values take into account of any reduction in exposure provided by hearing protection. These also depend on the noise level within the working area and how long personnel spend in them during the day or week, and is given in LEP,d dB units calculated from the following formula:

mathematical equation

Where: Te is the duration of the persons' working day in seconds
To is the total number of seconds within the working day

However, if the work is such that the daily exposure consists of two or more periods with different sound pressure levels, the daily noise exposure level LEP,d for the combination of periods is ascertained using the following formula:

mathematical equation

Where: n is the number of individual periods in the working day;
Ti is the duration of period i; and

mathematical equation

is equal to Te, the duration of the person's working day, in seconds.

The 2005 regulations have now included a maximum peak level within each of a three level categories as well as a maximum limit before various actions are required by the employer.

The requirements are detailed within the regulations as:

Below Lower Exposure Action Value 80 dB

The employer is not required to take any action although if new machinery is introduced or shift patterns alter in any way, new levels should be assessed in order to maintain continual compliance.

Between Lower Exposure Action Value 80 dB and Upper Exposure Action Value 85 dB

Ensure that suitable hearing protection is made available for all employees within the stipulated areas if requested for.

Above Upper Exposure Action Value 85 dB

Ensure that suitable hearing protection is worn by all employees within the stipulated areas. This directive is mandatory and should be enforced. However, these should only be issued to employees where extra protection is needed above what can be achieved using noise control methods and as a short term solution while other noise controlling remedial works are implemented if practical. It should be noted that hearing protection should not be used as an alternative for controlling noise by technical and organisational means.

Other factors to consider…

  1. Noise map open plan areas and affix high visibility tape to the floor areas to depict the noise sensitive areas. This should be backed up with noise awareness signs and hearing protection dispensers etc.
  2. Consider job rotation if possible and swap employees from quieter areas to reduce the individuals daily exposure level.
  3. Review the possibility of replacing any noisy units with more modern, quieter units.
  4. Construct a company purchasing policy, reviewing plant noise levels prior to installation to ensure acceptable exposure levels.
  5. Service plant regularly as bearing wear can create unnecessary noise level increases.