Once the noise risk has been recognised, formal measures are required to reduce exposure to it. They should be implemented whenever an employee's exposure to noise is likely to exceed the upper exposure action values of 85 decibels for daily or weekly exposure, or a peak sound pressure of 137 decibels. But beware, hearing protection does not count as a control measure.
As a priority, establish whether the noise exposure can be prevented or reduced by:
- Using quieter equipment or a different, quieter process
- Bringing in engineering/technical controls to reduce, at source, the noise produced by a machine or process
- Using screens, barriers, enclosures and absorbent materials to reduce the noise
- Redesigning the layout of the workplace to create quiet workstations
- Limiting the time people spend in noisy areas
- Introducing a purchasing policy for low noise machinery and equipment
- Regularly maintaining the machinery and equipment that takes account of noise
When or while a risk remains, an employer must make hearing protection available upon request to any employee likely to be exposed above the lower action value and provide hearing protection to any employee likely to be exposed above the upper action value.
Remember, hearing protection should only be used as a last resort where there are risks to health and safety that cannot be controlled by other means.