Communications Solutions

Hearing damage caused by exposure to noise at work is permanent and irreversible. Research estimates that over 2 million people are exposed to noise levels at work that may be harmful.

Hearing loss usually develops from long-lasting exposure to noise and progresses over time. Hearing damage can also be caused by sudden, extremely loud noises. Tinnitus and muffled hearing is also a sign of hearing damage from exposure to noise.

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 is designed to protect against the risks to both health and safety from exposure to noise. Employers are duty bound by this regulation to remove or reduce the risk from noise at work.

Source: Health and Safety Executive: Noise induced hearing loss in Great Britain

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Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005

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Employers are duty bound by the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 to remove or reduce risks to health and safety from noise at work.

If any employee is likely to be exposed to noise at or above an upper exposure action value, the employer must reduce exposure to as low a level as is reasonably practicable by establishing and implementing a programme of organisational and technical measures, excluding the provision of personal hearing protectors, which is appropriate to the activity.

A noise risk assessment is required if any employee is likely to be exposed at or above the lower action value. Typical situations would be:

  • The noise is intrusive for most of the working day. Examples would be a busy road or a vacuum cleaner.
  • For at least part of the day you need to use a raised voice to have a conversation with someone two metres away.
  • Noisy power tools or machinery are used for more than half an hour a day.
  • Working in noisy industries such as construction, road repair, engineering or manufacturing.
  • There are noises from impacts such as hammering, drop forging, and pneumatic impact tools.
  • There are noises from explosive sources, such as cartridge-operated tools, detonators or guns.

The employer shall ensure that risk from the exposure of his employees to noise is either eliminated at source or, where this is not reasonably practicable, reduced to as low a level as is reasonably practicable. A formal programme of measures to reduce noise exposure is required to be established and implemented whenever an employee's exposure to noise is likely to exceed the upper exposure action values (hearing protection does not count as a control measure).

When or while a risk remains an employer must make hearing protection available upon request to any employee likely to be exposed above a lower action value, and provide hearing protection to any employee likely to be exposed above the upper action value.

The Regulation Action Values

Loud noise is an occasional part of everyday life. Permanent hearing damage results when the noise is too high, for too long, too often. The risk from noise at work is indicated by the daily personal noise exposure level or LEP,d. This is the total noise dose in the working day. This may be made up of periods at different sound levels but it is expressed as the equivalent steady level that would give the same dose in eight hours.

Very high level sound such as explosions, gun fire and some machinery may pose a risk of instantaneous damage even when the sound is infrequent or very short duration. This risk is assessed against the C-weighted peak level of the sound. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations give action and limit values for the above risks which are trigger points for action to protect employees.

Daily personal noise exposure level LEP,d dBA C-weighted peak level LCpeak dBC
Lower action value 80 135
Upper action value 85 137
Limit value 87 140

The action values take no account of hearing protection use, but the limit values do take account of the attenuation of any hearing protection used.

Actions required when the action values are exceeded

Actions when at and above the lower action value

  • Make a noise risk assessment.
  • Provide staff training on the risks and how to keep safe.
  • Implement controls to reduce the level and duration of exposures.
  • Consult with staff on workplace changes.
  • Make hearing protection available.

Additional actions when above the upper action value

  • Produce an action plan of control measures that details the how, when and who is responsible.
  • Mark out areas where exposures are likely to exceed the upper action values as hearing protection zones. Hearing protection must be worn in these zones.
  • Provide regular health surveillance to employees at risk (this would usually include everyone regularly exposed above the upper action value).

The limit value

If it is exceeded then you must prevent any reoccurrence immediately.

Source: Health and Safety Executive: The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.
Health and Safety Authority: Guide to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007.
Liz Brueck MIOA, Senior Noise Specialist, Engineering & Personal Safety Unit, Health & Safety Laboratory

Why Use Communications solutions?

Working in high noise environments can make communicating with others more difficult, prompting the need for the person to either completely remove their ear defender or lifting a cup of the defender to hold a conversation with someone.
For some, this may not seem to be an issue, however the overall impact of this action could in fact reduce the overall attenuation during the working day.
The graph below highlights how the attenuation is affected by lifting the cup of the ear defender:

Hearing protection with integrated communication capabilities enables the person who works in a high noise environment to:

  • Communicate efficiently and safely,
  • Hear warning signals,
  • Remove the feeling of isolation and eliminate the tendency to remove their hearing protection in situations where it is required.

Source: 3M Peltor Research

Two-Way Radios

Analogue and Digital

Both analogue and digital frequencies transmit radio signals, however analogue and digital radios cannot be used together as the way they transmit signals is different.

Analogue is slowly being replaced by digital due to it having certain audio and coverage limitations.

Digital offers a better and clearer form of communication. Providing a better range, higher channel capacity and data transfer. Security is also improved as each signal is encrypted. Digital radios can accommodate GPS tracking, free of charge text messaging, the integration into an IP network and lone working alarm functionality.

Email to arrange a site survey to discuss your radio requirements.

It is required by the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 that no radio equipment is installed or used in the UK except under the authority of a licence granted by or otherwise exempted by regulations made by Ofcom. It is a condition of such a licence or exemption regulations as appropriate that the equipment meets the minimum requirements in the relevant UK Interface Requirement.

Unlicensed

The frequency on 446MHz on UHF/Analogue is available license free to anybody across the UK. With the 446 frequency there are multiple channels to choose from, allowing anyone to access this unlicensed frequency Unlicensed communication equipment has no security settings, anyone who is within the range will be able to pick up your conversation on the same channel.

Licence

Licensed frequencies prevents transmissions being picked up by other radio frequencies and provides a secure form of communication. To request a licensed frequency, Ofcom need to consider the following:

Type of business
Location
Other sites in the vicinity with existing radio licenses
Number of users
Number of frequencies required
Number of channels required

Ofcom will review the above details and will advise if they will allocate the company their own frequency/channel for them to use. All radios/headsets will need to be programmed in to this specific frequency. For a licensed frequency an annual licensed fee will need to be paid to Ofcom.

Source:http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/spectrum/business-radio/guidance-for-licensees/LicensingPolicyManual.pdf

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