Noise is one of the most common physical hazards present in an occupational setting. Prolonged exposure to noise can result in either temporary or permanent hearing loss.
Just putting on hearing protection isn't the answer. Adopting good control measures at the source of the problem is.
The noise guidelines to prevent noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) are an average of 85dBA over an 8-hour workshift or a peak noise of 140dB. If you work longer workshifts the amount of noise you can be exposed to before you get NIHL will change.
If you have noise hazards on site then you need to assess the hazard to meet your obligations under HSWA. This is done by conducting a noise survey which should be repeated every 5 years or if you make significant changes to your site or working conditions.
This can be determined by getting a competent person to carry out a noise survey of your workplace. They will measure the noise levels on site and during tasks and will tell you if you need to wear hearing protection, which areas you need to wear it in, and what tasks you need to wear it for.
You need to wear hearing protection when indicated by the noise survey and recommendation made by a competent person. Signage and induction information can be used to indicate which areas require hearing protection. Don’t remove your hearing protection when in a noisy area, even to have a short conversation, as this will put you at risk for hearing loss.
If your site has noise hazards you should have a Hearing Conservation Programme to ensure you conduct regular noise surveys, train your people on the noise hazards and how to work safely with them, and have a plan to reduce the noise hazards using the hierarchy of controls.
Chemsafety have trained Consultants who are able to advise you on your hearing conversation plan, first by measuring the hazard, recommending controls and then helping to ensure those controls stay in place and are effective.
WorkSafeNZ have some great information on noise including videos and resources to download. If you'd like more information or for a Chemsafety Consultant to come to your site to evaluate your hazard give us a call or send us an email. We're always happy to talk.
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